Martine Kalaw '99, author of the memoir Illegal Among Us, has been named as a recipient of a 2019 American Heritage Award by the American Immigration Council.
Kalaw journeyed through a seven-year battle as an undocumented immigrant without a family to becoming a senior level executive with an advanced degree, a father, and U.S. citizenship.
"I started to write my story because I was too afraid to speak," Kalaw has said about her memoir. "I felt invisible and the words I put on paper was the only voice I had. I was undocumented for thirteen years and in deportation for seven. I feared for my life and was at risk of being sent to a detention facility because I was also stateless. If something terrible was going to happen to me I needed people to know that I existed and that I wasn't just an 'illegal alien'."
Kalaw is a graduate of Hamilton College and Syracuse University's Maxwell School with a masters in public administration and a focus on immigration law. She is the managing principal of Martine Kalaw Enterprises, LLC, where she consults and trains with global start-ups who are on the verge of an M&A, sudden growth, or are downsizing.
The American Heritage Awards celebrate the talents, contributions, and accomplishments of notable immigrants and their advocates. Honorees have included General Colin Powell, Sammy Sosa, Carlos Santana, Gerda Weisman Klein, Senator Daniel Inouye, and Nobel Peace Prize-winning physicist Daniel Tsui.