Marisa Perez, Class of 2011
Music Major, Psychology Minor
“Everything at Wittenberg is for us, the students, and we are free to find ourselves here. Not only have I learned from professor, but also from my peers around me.”
Many students see Wittenberg University’s community service requirement as a job and quietly put it off until they are upperclassmen. Marisa Perez is the exception to the rule, with enough time volunteered through her first two years on campus to fulfill the prerequisite for multiple students.
Ask why she is so involved in her community, and Perez proudly says she would not have it any other way.
“I have always enjoyed seeing people smile and volunteering in my community provides that,” Perez said. “If I can help build a house, volunteer at a soup kitchen, I will. Seeing other people happy and content makes me feel just the same way.”
Perez was recently awarded the prestigious Foundation for Independent Higher Education Scholarship, an award given to a deserving Hispanic student who has been significantly involved in her community and carries a grade point average of 2.8 or higher.
The resume that earned Perez the scholarship includes extensive involvement in her church community in Lakewood, Ohio, through which she has hosted families for meals and provided shelter. She has also participated in various walks and races, including the ALS Walk and the Women of the Congo race in Chicago, and she was a member of a Habitat for Humanity project. In addition, Perez traveled to the impoverished African kingdom of Lesotho to build playgrounds and rehabilitate schools with a group of Wittenberg students last summer.
It took just one step on campus for Perez to know this was the place for her to grow as a person. Three years after her arrival, she has clearly flourished in the environment Wittenberg provides.
“From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I knew I wanted to be here,” Perez said. “The people were so nice and welcoming, and that was the environment I wanted to be in.”
When she is not volunteering in the community, Perez is involved in a variety of campus activities, including the peer helper program. In addition, she sings with the famed Wittenberg Choir and Just Eve, a women’s a cappella group on campus.
Perez is pursing a career in music or art therapy, which will allow her to continue her passion for helping people. Until she walks across the stage in Commencement Hollow, however, Perez plans to continue to expand her horizons and take advantage of the wide range of experiences available to Wittenberg students.
“Wittenberg has so much to offer in the classroom and out,” Perez said. “I plan to take the experiences that I have had here and spread them to everyone I come in contact with. Having the light, I will pass it on to others.”
Written by Trent Brunic ’10