Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cuyamaca College valedictorian Marissa Morrison thanks professors for guidance

A stellar student dating back to elementary school, Cuyamaca College valedictorian and commencement speaker Marissa Morrison started college with the goal of graduating with straight A’s.

The Jamul native had never known anything but perfection when it came to her grades. But as she told graduates at the commencement ceremony, her first day at Cuyamaca made her realize that with college came untested waters.
Class valedictorian Marissa Morrison is also the reigning Ms. Mountain Empire.

“I barely made it through all of my classes, and when I finally got home, I broke down in tears,” she said.

But Morrison persevered, finding the same inner strength that got her through the trauma of becoming homeless after losing her family home in the 2007 Harris fire.

“Life has its way of throwing unexpected hurdles at us, but it is our job to overcome them,” she said in her commencement address. “Each one of us can think of a moment in our lives that shook our very foundation, making us question our ability to persevere, and yet you are all here today, sitting before me in your cap and gowns, ready to graduate from college.”


With the help and encouragement from family and instructors, Morrison finished her years at Cuyamaca College in spectacular fashion. Keeping her 4.0 grade-point average intact, she earned associate degrees in three areas of study: psychology, social and behavioral sciences, and communication and language arts. In addition, she received two certificates of achievement in CSU General Education - Breadth and American Sign Language.

It was the excellence and commitment of faculty to student success that got her interested in so many subjects.

“I am thankful for the professors who went above and beyond to enrich my educational experience,” she said, identifying several instructors in her commencement speech who were instrumental to her academic success.

Headed to San Diego State University in the fall, Morrison plans to major in psychology and eventually enter the field of law or to become a marriage and family counselor. Her interest in law came from her high school days, participating in mock trials and debating some of the most controversial issues in American history, such as the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

“I loved having to think on my feet,” Morrison said.

At Cuyamaca College, an introductory psychology class sparked her interest in studying the human mind and learning what makes people tick. As a volunteer tutor at Steele Canyon High School, Morrison said the combination of her psychology classes and her experience working with teens got her thinking about an alternate career path as a family counselor.

“I like working with kids and giving them a voice,” she said. “Too often, they feel powerless because they think no one listens to them.”

Whatever career path Morrison eventually chooses, she is grateful to Cuyamaca College for giving her the tools and educational foundation to continue growing and exploring life’s unlimited opportunities.

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