Growing up, Marissa Weatherly was raised by a single mother who instilled in her at a young age the importance of paying forward and having a good education. Marissa’s childhood included volunteering at soup kitchens – even though her family often ate at them – and spending her free time at the library attending programs and reading countless books.
Such a childhood meant that for Marissa, college remained just a dream: “I came from a family of people who were filled with so much potential; however, due to economic circumstances or their role models, they were unable to attend college or fully reach their dreams.” Marissa’s journey to fulfilling her dream of a college education – and The Ohio State University – began when she was accepted into the Young Scholars Program (YSP) in Canton, Ohio.
Founded in 1988, YSP is located in the nine largest urban public school districts in Ohio and provides opportunities for academically talented first-generation students with demonstrated financial need to pursue a higher education. Young Scholars must complete a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, and scholars in good academic standing receive a robust financial aid package consisting of federal and state grants, work-study, and the Young Scholars Award. Her YSP Scholarship not only provided Marissa with the wherewithal to attend Ohio State – providing financial peace of mind to her mother – Marissa also had a strong support system in place on campus, where, she said, someone from her city and background could easily fall into the shadows.
With the support of YSP, Marissa began her academics at Ohio State. While it took a little time to adjust to college life – at one point, she was close to losing her YSP scholarship – Marissa’s ability to bounce back from personal and academic hardships served her well. She has since made the Dean's List, been promoted to a student manager at her job, joined a sorority, received an internship, and conducted undergraduate research. Marissa will also participate in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s education abroad in Brazil over Spring Break. “I want to be an example for students who think they can't do it but instead show them that they, too, are resilient and can do whatever they set their mind to.”
Now a senior, Marissa remains focused on her goals of doing well in her academics, increasing her cultural awareness, and bettering herself and her community. She serves as a mentor in her Politics, Society and Law Scholars Honors and Scholars group and as an Academic Success Partner for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She is also a member of the Latina-based multi-cultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma, where she is the Community Service Chair. During her tenure in that position, Sigma Lambda Gamma received the Best Community Service and Philanthropy Award for completing more than 40 hours of service as a group and raising almost $2,000 for Breast Cancer Awareness.
Marissa will graduate in Spring of 2016 with a major in Political Science with a focus on International Relations and a minor in Legal Foundations of Society. She recently received a State Government Internship with the Ohio State Government Affairs Program where she will work in the Statehouse with the Ohio General Assembly, a position that fits in well with her major and career aspirations. Marissa plans to take a year off and gain work experience in politics and the law before applying to law school in the Fall of 2016. She would like to earn a dual degree with a Masters of Public Policy and a J.D. “I have always wanted to be a lawyer; my mom says it is because I never lose an argument. However, I think it is due to my inability to let injustices prosper. I am always striving for a balance and sense of fairness in life. I know that the law and politics are the key determinants for decision making.”
To support other Young Scholars such as Marissa, please consider donating to the Young Scholars Program Fund - 308684.