UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Undergraduate Admissions Office and Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (CIRC) at Penn State Law in University Park have partnered to ensure that immigrants, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented students, feel welcomed and are informed about the resources at Penn State. As part of the collaboration, the two units researched immigration law and policies at peer institutions and reviewed the policy, applications, and websites of the admissions office.
“We greatly appreciate collaborating with CIRC to help elevate Penn State as a welcoming and inclusive university,” said Sherri Metcalfe, M.Ed., assistant director of international admission at Penn State. “This work has helped us embody President Barron’s call that Penn State has an unwavering commitment to access and education for all students.”
One result of the partnership is a new webpage, aimed at DACA and undocumented students housed by admissions, that features resources and information about scholarships, residency requirements for in-state tuition, and the Common Application. To help promote a message of inclusion, the webpage states that “Penn State welcomes the application and enrollment of undocumented students with or without DACA. Undocumented students and DACA recipients can find a safe environment and supportive community at Penn State.”
The collaboration with the admissions office is a great example of how students can complete meaningful, hands-on legal work through one of Penn State Law’s nine clinics.
“I am pleased CIRC students had the opportunity to apply immigration law and policy in an impactful way through this partnership with the admissions office,” said Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion and founding director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law in University Park. “On the heels of shifting immigration policy and a recent decision in a federal district court on DACA, which in turn has caused great uncertainty, it is crucial to reaffirm the value of inclusion of available resources for current and future Penn Staters.”
Recent graduates and current students at Penn State Law who worked on the project through the clinic said it was a fulfilling experience, both professionally and personally.
“To have had the opportunity during my last year of law school to work on a project focused on greater understanding of the admissions and application processes for undocumented and DACA students, and how to best provide resources for those students, both current and future, is an accomplishment I am very proud of,” said Kristen T. Davis, a Penn State Law and CIRC alumna from the Class of 2021.
Jacob Bies, a third-year student at Penn State Law, added, “This launch fills me with pride for my contribution, as well as excitement for the future of this partnership and the improvements and resources it will develop and offer to applicants.”
The admissions office and CIRC are hoping to continue the partnership to keep improving resources for students at the University.
“What we have accomplished, which resulted in the initial webpage publishing for DACA and undocumented students, is just a start,” said Dr. Nivedita Nagachar, an admissions counselor at Penn State. “We are excited and highly appreciative of past CIRC students and future ones in the continued collaborative efforts to make Penn State more inclusive and welcoming for all.”