Marissa Steimel hugs her latest accomplishment and flashes a smile for the photographer. Within seconds, even if you don’t know this young woman, you know it won’t be the last time we see this kind of picture.
Last weekend, Steimel, 22 and a senior communication major at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, received the Outstanding Student Leader Award from the National Association for Campus Activities. The award was presented at the NACA Central Regional Conference in Tulsa, Okla.
This leadership award joins several others Steimel has received for her indomitable spirit and ability to energize others to get things done with outstanding results.
“People are my passion,” Steimel said. “I’ve always wanted to help people. That’s why I chose nursing when I first came to UMSL.”
She speaks quickly and convincingly through a nearly ever-present smile.
“But then I discovered my personality might be better fitted to helping young people figure out what they want to do with their lives,” she said.
Steimel’s intellect (Pierre Laclede Honors College student with a 3.96 GPA); organizational skills (executive chair of the University Program Board and vice president of Delta Zeta sorority); and leadership skills (New Student Orientation Leader and mentor of several other student leader organizations) prompted the nominations for the award encompassing eight states.
And it was her ability to lead by example, to push boundaries and that passion of hers that won the award.
“Marissa is always around, either to chalk on the sidewalks before any students arrive on campus or as the last person at an event while the vendors are packing up,” said Tegan Klevorn, coordinator of student activities in her nomination of Steimel.
She spoke of Steimel’s creative and innovative programming ideas.
“Whether it is a panel discussion about the misconceptions of religion among student groups, or a life-sized Candy Land game, she is always pushing the boundaries,” Klevorn said. “Not only does she come up with the ideas, she brings them to life.”
Megan Green, UMSL’s director of new student programs wrote one of several letters of recommendation.
“Marissa is known to be a person committed to doing the ‘right thing’ even when there is pressure to do otherwise,” Green said. “She exhibits a refreshing humility in her work — direct and assertive with others when appropriate, but never seeking the limelight for herself.”
Ashlee Roberts has worked with Steimel on various projects including new student orientation and the Martin Luther King Day of Service.
“From parents to students, Marissa’s contagious enthusiasm was welcome,” Roberts said. “She goes into everything with a great attitude, which has also made her a great site leader for our MLK program.”
Steimel sits comfortably in the busy UPB office in the Millennium Student Center. She has written the letters GRE and a date on the back of her hand.
“That’s for the Graduate Record Exam I’m supposed to be studying for to get into graduate school.”
She talks about her future, which brings even bigger smiles.
Steimel plans to follow her passion for helping college students and is currently applying to graduate schools that offer degrees in higher education with an emphasis on student activities. Her life seems as jam-packed as it’s been since she arrived.
“I’m working on my honors college portfolio which involves a lot of writing and writing doesn’t come easy for me,” she said. “I’m much better at talking than I am at writing.
“Oh, and I’m mentoring students in the first-year experience in the College of Fine Arts and Communication,” she added in rapid succession.
A pager on her belt goes off.
She explains that she’s on call this week for her job as a conference assistant with Conference and Event Services. Steimel, who graduated from Duchesne High School, used to live at home with her parents in St. Charles County,Mo. After two years, she decided the commute was stealing time from her studies and activities on campus
“This job allows me to live on campus,” she said. “I couldn’t do all of this unless I lived here. Yep, I’ve got all my bases covered.”
Once you get to know her, you’d agree.