Double-majoring in music education and public relations, College of Arts and Architecture student marshal Marissa Works will graduate on Dec. 21 with four internships under her belt, six major awards and experience gained from involvement in multiple Penn State organizations. With an almost perfect GPA, Works is a student in the Schreyer Honors College, and she served as an orientation leader within the college for two consecutive years. Works also served as the community service chair for the Schreyer Honors College Student Council.
Her passion and drive for the arts and music led her to hold leadership positions in several arts-related organizations, including president and vice president of communications of the Penn State Performing Arts Council, president and music director of the Pennharmonics, and secretary and soprano section leader for the Penn State Concert Choir.
“Starting in Schreyer gave me a lot of leadership opportunities right in the beginning of my college career,” said Works. “All of the little experiences I was able to do early on in my college career prepared me to take on larger roles further down the road.”
Works, who received the 2019 John W. Oswald Award for Leadership in the Creative and Performing Arts, said the most notable of her larger roles includes serving as president of the Performing Arts Council her senior year.
“This experience has been the most valuable because I could exercise all the things I learned in public relations and use those tools to help promote the arts community,” said Works. “I was able to meet so many amazing people within the College of Arts and Architecture because of this leadership role.”
Her role as president led her to speak at State of State in spring 2019, an annual conference for the Penn State community that brings together innovative speakers and University leaders.
Her double-major paired with her leadership experience allowed Works to land an incredible internship opportunity at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in summer 2017. In summer 2018, she participated in Penn State’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations (DDAR) internship program.
“I also did the DDAR internship, because the people at the Kennedy Center showed me the importance of understanding development in the arts,” said Works. “Every experience I’ve had has definitely been a stepping stone to the next.”
Although she has dabbled in both the communications and art education fields, Works always knew she wanted to stay connected to music education after graduation. She reflected on the power music has had in all stages of her life and how she plans to incorporate the arts in her future career.
“Music education is teaching children how to story-tell through the arts,” said Works. “It is teaching them about the world around them and themselves. It is teaching them self-expression and giving them a voice.”
Works stressed how her public relations experience helped her strengthen her writing and story-telling skills. While the world of public relations ultimately helps a brand tell its story, Works said she hopes to take what she learned and apply it to her teaching philosophy.
The soon-to-be graduate gave thanks to multiple professors that positively impacted her time at Penn State, including Linda Thornton, her academic and thesis adviser in the Music Education program; Tara Wyckoff, a public relations professor who helped her break out of her shell; and Bellisario College of Communications Dean Marie Hardin, who she believes is one powerful, dedicated woman.
Works, who served as a student member of the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State Community Advisory Council, said the CPA team also made an impact on her time at the University. “The center is a gem on campus and I could not imagine my time here without their support for student creativity.”
Works is excited to finish off her final chapter at Penn State by becoming the student marshal.
“I have done so much at the University and I have filled every second of time I could serving the University. It is really amazing to be recognized for that and it is helping me look back and appreciate my journey at Penn State from beginning to end,” she said.
Works looks forward to a career where she uses the arts to impact people’s lives in some way.
She encourages undergraduates to put their best foot forward in everything they do and make a habit of excellence.
“Make sure you fill your time in a meaningful way and don’t feel like you need to be locked into a certain path. Be confident in knowing your college years are a time for exploration, but do so purposefully.”