Paterno Fellow helps refugees during remote summer internship

Michaela Harpster
September 23, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop Paterno Fellow Noelle Musolino from engaging in meaningful work this summer. The global and international studies and political science double major had the unique opportunity to help refugees become citizens through her remote internship with the International Rescue Committee’s Charlottesville office. 

Working with an immigration lawyer, Musolino’s main job was to fill out refugee’s paperwork to become citizens and lawful permanent residents. While she wishes she could have met her clients in person, she was still able to talk to them via phone and email. Communicating with her clients allowed her to obtain the necessary information she needed to complete their documents. She also searched for the information through scanned forms of identification and past paperwork. Her goal was to help the refugees have the opportunity to build a safer and better life. 

Musolino’s interest in immigration law was sparked by her coursework in global and international studies. Thanks to both her liberal arts education and her experience with the International Rescue Committee, Musolino now wants to pursue a career in immigration law. 

“My liberal arts education, specifically through my global and international studies major, furthered my desire to go to law school and inspired me to consider immigration law,” Musolino said. “Now, I am applying to law schools and specifically looking for schools with immigration law clinics because of both my education here at Penn State and the incredible experience I had working with the International Rescue Committee.” 

According to Musolino, the Paterno Fellows Program impacted her internship in a peculiar way.

“Last year, I went to a Paterno Fellows Lunch with Honors Speaker Series event about careers in intelligence with an alumna from the CIA,” she said. “Inspired by what I learned, I applied for an internship with the FBI. I was offered the internship contingent on meeting the security clearance. Assuming I would pass security, I didn’t apply to any other internships. As it turns out, you can fail a lie detector test while telling the truth, which is what happened to me. I didn’t get the job, and I was left without a summer internship. However, if I wouldn’t have been confident in securing my FBI internship, I probably wouldn’t have waited until I did to apply to internships, and I wouldn’t have been looking at the time the IRC had posted an application.

“This just goes to show that great opportunities can come from unexpected circumstances.” 

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 23, 2020