Marissa Chukwu (’18, Bio.) always dreamed of attending college to study the medical sciences and become a doctor, eventually gaining the experience to one day establish a hospital in her home country of Nigeria.
First, though, she needed to conquer a substantial hurdle: the rising cost of higher education. “I always had that problem of figuring out how to finance my way through college,” she says.
Her mother was divorced and unable to help Marissa financially. But that obstacle disappeared when Marissa enrolled at WSU and received a generous scholarship to help pay her expenses.
“My mum has always been so supportive of me and the fact that I am working really hard to get a bachelor’s degree in science,” she says. “Being awarded this scholarship lifted a big weight off her shoulders. The fact that she can see her daughter getting the opportunity to pursue her dreams makes me really happy.”
To Marissa, every penny counts toward getting an education. “When you get such an opportunity like this, it really does make me feel very appreciative to be supported and to receive something that is very valuable.”
As a WSU student in Pullman, Marissa is a long way from her home on the East Coast. And she is quick to point out that Pullman was a deliberate choice. “To be honest, I was looking for a wonderful and serene environment where I could be far away from distractions and at a place where I could solely concentrate on my education because that is what means the most to me,” she says.
The WSU community provided that and more. “WSU proved to me that they were really interested in helping me start my college career, which I am really appreciative of,” she adds.
In her own words:
What was the guiding factor when you decided your major course of study at WSU?
“Crazy as it may seem, I have always loved studying science and math. My mom is a great contributor to this as she is the one who opened my eyes to the great possibilities of what science had to offer. Apart from that, growing up in Nigeria also contributed to choosing Biology as my major. I grew up in an environment where a large group of people did not have the opportunity to access health care services. To me, I felt it was only best that I could use the one thing I love and am good at to help my community to my best ability.”
What do you hope to accomplish with your degree from WSU?
“I do not think the word ‘hope’ would do my aspirations justice. I have so much belief and assurance in the opportunities WSU has to offer to students like me and I am sure that I am not the only one who believes that. The fact that I will be graduating with a diploma that says ‘Washington State University’ on it would be a great achievement that would most definitely help me in getting into medical school to further my studies in medical science and even accomplish the establishment of the hospital I aspire to own.”
Something people might not know about me:
“Apart from my love for science and math, I am actually an artist. I have been an artist for a very long time. I have done works involving the creation of large scale murals and designing clothes and wall paintings. Also, I graduated from high school at the age of 15. This is funny to me because now I am 18 years old and a sophomore and most people wonder how that is even possible.”
When I need a break from my academics:
“When I need a break from my academics, I go outside and take steady walks, play some basketball if I can, or simply sit quietly while enjoying a wonderful Jamaican Jammers smoothie from Freshens. I also love watching cartoons; I believe you are never too old for a classic Disney movie.”
What fuels me:
“Curiosity. I have a tendency to ask a lot of questions about almost anything. I do not only aspire to know things involving science but also the things around me. Every day I always have this urge to be involved and know how things work. And the fact that I am at an entirely different environment, my curiosity level is twice the size as it normally is.”