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Marissa Marshall

Reaching New Heights

BA '19, Strategic Communications

Marissa Marshall

Meet Marissa Marshall (BA ‘19, Strategic Communications), a newly minted Cal State East Bay alumna, who will begin her career with the National Basketball Association (NBA) in New York City.

Her passions are rooted in the business realm of the sports world, but more importantly women in sports. She plans to change the narrative for female athletes and heighten the likes of representation, leading to more than just equality—but equity.

Q&A with Marissa

Why did you decide to attend Cal State East Bay?

I was being recruited by several schools for soccer, and I decided to commit to East Bay to embed myself in a new space. I am originally from Los Angeles—so I wanted to experience a different environment, while also not being too far from home. Committing to East Bay allowed me to do that.

Are you a first generation student? If so, what motivated you to pursue higher education? How did you handle and surpass obstacles?

On my mother’s side, I’d be considered first generation. My father never finished college, however, my stepmom did—so she did give me an outlook on how important it was. Up until junior year of high school, I didn’t try very hard in the academic realm. However, as the oldest of 2 brothers and oldest of seven first cousins whom I also consider my brothers and sisters, I realized how it important it was to really get my stuff together and set a good example for them. They were counting on me, and as their big sister, it was vital I was someone who set a positive example, rather than paint a picture of “what not to be”. In addition, I also realized how blessed I was to even be granted the opportunity to pursue higher education. So many people in my family didn’t have that opportunity and it was important for me to also change that narrative. As soon as that clicked in my head, I made a commitment to maintain academic excellence throughout my college tenure.

How has East Bay helped you with your ambitions?

East Bay has played a very important role in my ambitions. In more ways, I would have imagined quite frankly. For starts, it gave me a sense of freedom and free thinking that I didn’t once have. Helping me step out of my comfort zone and really grow into who I am. I used to be very shy unless I was on the soccer field. A lot of people don’t know that about me, they think I’ve just been this super ambitious, confident, young woman and that really isn’t the case at all. I really just became this entirely new person when I came to East Bay, in a good way of course. I guess you could say I broke out of my shell. From my peers to the faculty; I felt supported and seen—and because of that it, propelled me.

2015, during my freshman year, I stepped down from the soccer team with aspirations of wanting to further pursue my then goal of being a sports reporter. I immediately got involved with The Pioneer Newspaper and started writing and covering sports stories as a contributor, and after two weeks I was promoted as a staff writer. I think that initial support and confidence boost the Pioneer staff and advisors gave me is what really allowed me to step into who I was. I was finally good at more than just soccer, you know? And to see my name in the newspaper every week, assured that. Though my ambitions have changed in terms of career, The Pioneer serves as the first step of the beginning of my very journey short journey thus far.

In addition, my advisors also played a central role in helping me with my ambitions. As a student, I knew how important it was for me to leverage my resources. With that said, I was sure to become very familiar with my department and the factually within it—as well as the advisors at Academic Advising and Career Education (AACE) who were the first people to help me curate a resume/cover letter. So overall Easy Bay has definitely played a major role.

What are your goals and aspirations now? Tell us a little bit about your new job with NBA!

Whew, goals and aspirations. I have a lot of them. Before being granted the position, the NBA was actually a goal and aspiration of mine. My number one post-grad choice at that. So for this to actually be a reality, is really just a blessing. Yes, I worked hard for it, but sometimes it’s hard for me to believe. I don’t think it will really hit me until I actually start. I was 1of 6 selected out of about 2,500 applicants for the NBA Associate Program in New York City. A highly competitive program with the National Basketball Association that gives Associates the opportunity to work in four different business rotations over two years.

This opportunity with the NBA allows me the chance to experience and understand different areas of the business, instead of just pigeon holing me into one singular position. Additionally, the position was a top choice and goal of mine, because my passions are rooted in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA)— in which I look to further grow the league, through the means of equity and representation.

However, to keep things concise, my goal overall is to inspire those around me to be their best selves and hold the door open for more women who look like me, especially as I navigate through these different spaces. Uplifting and creating a window of opportunity is a personal duty of mine, so I look forward to my growth and elevation as an individual for not only self-gratification but to assist others. My journey is so much bigger than me, and I plan to use my current and future experiences, positions, resources, and knowledge for the greater good.

What advice do you have for current Pioneer students?

Be curious, with intentionality. I wouldn’t be in the position I am in, had it not been for my faith and curiosity. Curiosity puts you in different environments that you can learn from. Additionally, I say be intentional because in every decision you make there needs to be a purpose. Be curious, with intentions that are geared to propel you.
With that said, some of the environments you end up in may be uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, it will allow you to learn. Curiosity opens so many different doors that you may not have even known existed, had you remained in your shell—or accepted the things that were just given to you. I think we often let fear stop us from being curious and that limits opportunity. Often times we’re afraid of being rejected/failing, but we need to search for the unknown. We need to introduce ourself to that person. We need to ask questions. We need to put ourselves in a position that expand our minds/ horizons to things we don’t know, and that all starts with being curious. Without curiosity, opportunity slips through, and I believe that's one of the many reasons I’ve been able to take hold of so many different opportunities and meet so many great people. I wasn’t afraid to be curious.
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