FIU student to star in ‘Today’ show segment

It all started with a 140-character response to a Today show tweet. A few tweets later FIU journalism student Natalie Merola was on a flight to New York City to appear on the national morning show.

“NBC’s Today show tweeted and asked how students were able to fund their college education,” said 24-year-old Merola. “I replied, ‘hard work and student involvement on campus can open doors to new opportunities.’”

FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg and Natalie Merola.

FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg and Natalie Merola.

The next tweet she received was from Patricia Luchsinger, the show’s producer, asking Merola to provide more information. Luchsinger liked her story and believed it could help current and future college students, as well as their parents.

Prior to transferring to FIU, Merola was drowning in student loans. She credits FIU with helping her navigate through difficult college financial times.

“After I could no longer afford to take out huge loans, I transferred to FIU— the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “It’s hard to fund college without guidance, and FIU gave me that much needed guidance through student organizations, scholarships, internship opportunities and phenomenal professors.”

The tweet that started Merola's "Today" show adventure.

The tweet that started Merola’s “Today” show adventure.

Although most internships are non-paying, she landed a paid internship with WPBT-PBS, which was paid by the Scripps Howard Foundation. This was an invaluable experience, kick-starting her career in journalism, and the extra money helped pay for books and other college necessities.

On Monday, Aug. 12, Merola will be featured in the Today show’s “Cost of College” segment stressing the importance of university engagement, hard work and determination in funding a college education.

Merola hopes to inspire others in making their collegiate dreams into a reality.

The segment is set to air at approximately 8 a.m.

To view the Today show segment Natalie Merola appeared in, click here.

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