March Alums Spotlight: Marisa Daniel

This March we will be shining the alums spotlight on Marisa Daniel, former City Year corps member and recent Heller graduate.

When and where did you serve in AmeriCorps?

Marisa Daniel served in AmeriCorps with Friends of the Children and later with City Year Boston
Marisa Daniel served in AmeriCorps with Friends of the Children and later with City Year Boston

During my senior year of undergrad (2009-10) I served as a part-time AmeriCorps member in Boston for Friends of the Children.  I was a positive peer mentor for a second grader in Roxbury. Following that I served one year (2010-11) with City Year Boston and was located at Orchard Gardens Elementary School during their first year of its turnaround.

What is a story/experience that has stuck with you from your time in AmeriCorps? It can be good, bad, fun, profound, etc…

As an AmeriCorps member with CYB I served in an fifth grade math and social studies classroom.  Working with children is a roller coaster of learning which made every day memorable.  I worked closely with one student named Christian, who struggled keeping his behavior in line which then led to him being behind in math.  Although Christian would act out on a daily basis, I felt a connection with this student as I saw his potential to excel.  After a month or so of tutoring one on one, Christian began to master his multiplication tables and one day said, “I know math because of you Miss Marisa.” It’s days like those that have motivated and kept me grounded throughout graduate school.

How has your AmeriCorps experience benefited you after you served?

My AmeriCorps experience has benefited me in several ways. First and foremost it gave me hands on experience in a classroom giving me exposure to the effects of current education policy in Boston Public Schools.  It has provided me with professional development holding me and my fellow corps members to high standards.  It showed me that although one year of service is short, it is possible to make a lasting impression both on those you serve and yourself. I have developed lifelong friends both with fellow corps members, my program manager, and the teacher whose class I served in.  I also was fortunate to attend a graduate school that matched the education award allowing me to attend graduate school at a more affordable rate.  Lastly, my sister saw how impactful my experience was on my life and career choices and is now serving as an AmeriCorps member in Austin, Texas.

You recently received your MBA and MPP from the Heller School and Brandeis, what motivated you to go to grad school, and especially Heller?

There are many ways to affect change in social policy and I decided to pursue an MPP/MBA degree to equip myself with the skills necessary to make a difference in the nonprofit and public sector.  The students that I served at Orchard Gardens were my main motivation in applying to graduate school.  During my 10 months of service in their classroom, I saw such growth and new passions for learning develop.  I was drawn to Heller because of its focus on social justice and work in the nonprofit sector.  Many of the students there have similar backgrounds of service which creates a great atmosphere for learning and discussion about change.

Outside of volunteering, what do you do for fun?

Outside of volunteering I love to go out and try new restaurants around Boston and the surrounding area.  I also love listening to music, reading great books, and seeing movies in almost every genre.  

What’s something that inspires you?

On a daily basis I’m inspired by quotes that I’ve collected over the years from thought leaders, politicians, and other motivational speakers.  One of my favorites is the following:

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything. –Pedro Arrupe S.J.–

And lastly, a fun one, if you had the choice between being guaranteed to live for 100 years or having one superpower for one year (and then living out a natural length of life) which would you choose? Why? And if you choose to have a superpower, what power?

Without a doubt, I would have a superpower for one year.  I’ve always struggled with the superpower question as I have two favorite powers.  The first would be to have the ability to speak every language in the world.  The second would be to be able to teleport around the world (but not through time)!  As you can see, it’s a difficult decision.

Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself?

Not that I can think of! Thanks for this opportunity, great to take the time to reflect!

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