Interning with Purpose: Supporting Refugees Resettling in the US


A recent graduate of Santa Clara University and former Miller Center Fellow, Marissa Boylan SCU ‘21 spent the summer interning for 1951 Coffee, a social enterprise that provides training and employment opportunities for refugees living in Northern California. As Marissa notes, “The average time that it takes a refugee to be resettled after fleeing their country is 17 years. That’s a huge chunk of time to be missing work experience and education opportunities.”

1951 Coffee, named for the year the United Nations established refugee protection guidelines, works with refugees to help them overcome the unique barriers they face in seeking and sustaining employment. Marissa connected with 1951 through Miller Center’s new internship program which pairs Santa Clara students and recent graduates with alumni of the Center’s social enterprise accelerator programs. During her internship, Marissa created a social media fundraising campaign and worked on a $15,000 grant proposal which the organization won. She shared, “I’m really, really honored to have been able to work with a social enterprise that’s doing so much good work to help a group of people that is being consistently let down.”

Watch Marissa’s video to learn more about her internship with 1951 Coffee, her insights into the challenges facing refugees, her unique perspective growing up in Micronesia, and her desire to make an impact. According to Marissa, “This internship and my experience as a Miller Center Fellow honestly transformed my life and opened up so many doors for me. These opportunities taught me how to look at my passions as not just personal things but as ways to give back and serve my community.”

September 26, 2021, marks the Vatican’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Miller Center is proud to highlight Marissa’s internship and the tremendous work of 1951 Coffee in support of people displaced by conflict and persecution.

​​And watch the trailer for No Single Origin, an award-winning documentary that follows 1951 Coffee CEO Doug Hewitt and three graduates of the company’s Barista Training Program as they share the challenges of refugee resettlement in the US.