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  • Marissa  Grier
  • Marissa Grier

  • Easy Choices Early On, Now a Role Model for Single Moms

  • Marissa Grier, an admitted "small-town girl" from Hiawatha, Kan., knew at about seven years of age that she wanted to be a teacher.

    Grier's main inspiration came from her second-grade, and elementary school teacher, Mrs. Carter, in Hiawatha, Kan. "She was an awesome teacher," recalls Grier. "She led me to want to be a teacher like her."

    When contacted for thoughts about her former second-grade pupil — Mrs. Carter, now Mrs. Michele Starke since she remarried after her first husband passed away — was thrilled to recall her moments in class with Grier.

    “She was a quiet, serious student … a deep thinker. Marissa was a strong student and I remember what a good writer and reader she was. Organization was also a strength for her.  She was an absolute joy to have as a student!“

    And it turns out Mrs. Starke saw a budding teacher in her tiny student Grier.

    “It brings me great joy to know she is going to be a teacher. I believe she will be a great one!  I’m so proud of her, especially for pursuing her dream while caring for her precious son. It’s obvious that the traits I witnessed in Marissa as a second grader have been strengthened and continued as an adult. What an asset to the teaching profession.”

    With her career decided early on, Grier had only to pick a college for her teaching degree. Again, the decision was easy and came early.

    "I always wanted to come to Emporia State University," she says. "It was an awesome fit because it has always been known as 'THE Teacher's College'.

    "It was a good choice, too," she adds, "because there are a lot of things I have loved about ESU, like getting involved with students, the community, the organizations, and feeling part of a family. I have been involved with Alpha Sigma Lambda as vice president of membership and the Harmonious Voices of Praise. It has been so good to get involved with Relay for Life, and the Alpha Sigma Lambda benefit concert, to do some traveling, and getting to go around the community to meet people and get to know them."

    Grier discovered that getting involved was a key to her school success and benefiting from the whole Emporia State experience.

    "I came here without family or friends, but made friends and found an awesome support system. People can do it if they stay focused and let others help. New students should definitely get involved on-campus. There are so many Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) to join or receive help from."

    This is not to say Grier found going to Emporia State was all easy street. She entered college once and had to take off a year. She re-entered as a single mom and has had to balance raising her two-year-old son, as well as working two part-time jobs on-campus and maintaining a full-time load in school.

    "My son Tyson can definitely be a handful," she says, and admits to "feeling like a zombie" at times. "It can be an incredibly difficult job, working two jobs while being a full-time student and full-time single mom. The only way I can get by is with routine and scheduling. You have to plan everything out and spend as much time as possible with your child. When it is bedtime for Tyson, it is homework time for me.

    "While it is not easy," adds Grier, "I want other single moms to know they can do it. I want so badly to help other single moms. They need a good education and if they want to go on to college, I want them to know it is possible because I have done it."

    Grier is the role model for what she is saying and doing. She admits that a lot of prayers to God have helped her in some of the most burdensome of times. And one answered prayer has been the Center for Early Childhood Education on-campus.

    Not only is she pleased with the care given to her son, but she gets to work there as one of her jobs. The other part-time job is at the Emporia State University Archives in the William Allen White Library.

    Grier will graduate in May of 2014 with her degree in Elementary Education. She has decided to explore a graduate degree in counseling, too. And whatever she does, it looks like Grier will continue to be a role model for single moms.

    "I am just so happy about all the opportunities Emporia State University has given me," she concludes. "It has given me a wonderful education that will be with me in the future and prepared me to get a job."

    Marissa and son