"Most people don't realize it, but everyone has the opportunity to have an impact on someone's life."
Marisa Chanin is a Florida State University biology major who balances a passion for science and research with a love of serving her community.
In her freshman year at FSU, Chanin joined the Women in Science, Math and Engineering Program (WIMSE), a living-learning community of first-year female students who share an academic interest and are housed together in a campus residence hall.
Through WIMSE, she was introduced to undergraduate research and given an opportunity to get hands-on research experience beyond a classroom setting through the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Science.
"Being a part of university research has opened my eyes and shown me that while it can be hard work, it is an enlightening and rewarding experience," Chanin said.
WIMSE is a community committed to the success of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and Chanin has been involved in more than just research with the program. She is now their service chair and is responsible for coordinating events within the FSU community to teach and encourage other women about the STEM fields.
Susan Blessing, director of WIMSE and professor of physics, describes Chanin as a significant and encouraging member of their community.
"Marisa inspires others to be their very best," Blessing said. "Her positivity radiates in all her work, and she is a true asset not only to the Women in Science, Math and Engineering Program, but to the FSU community."
In 2015, Chanin participated in the LeaderShape Institute's weeklong program, which is an event dedicated to challenging participants to lead with integrity, while encouraging them to explore their deepest values. There she gained exemplary leadership skills and how to manage her time.
"It helped me to really look deep within myself to find what I am truly passionate about, and how I could focus that passion to turn my goals into reality," Chanin said.
In addition to her involvement with WIMSE, Chanin is also the executive director of the FSU Light the Night Walk event, an annual fundraising event held on campus to raise money and awareness for blood cancers such as leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma.
The event has raised more than $150,000 for blood cancer research since Chanin has been a member, and her efforts aiding the organization contributed to her winning the President's Undergraduate Humanitarian of the Year award.
"It is so important to me," Chanin said. "Since joining, I have seen how much this organization can help support patients and their families and give them hope during difficult times. Working with this event has been the highlight of my years at FSU, and I have met so many inspirational people who have given me a reason to help plan successful events each year."
Another significant community service event that has deepened Chanin's dedication to service is a trip she took to Peru through MEDLIFE. She traveled to underprivileged communities around the city of Cusco provide residents with free dental and medical care.
"My trip to Peru was a humbling and eye-opening experience that really changed how I thought about life and the world around me," she said. "As an aspiring dentist, that experience really motivated me to make every minute count and take advantage of any opportunities given to me."
Chanin believes that even people who aren't active in any organizations can still make a difference.
"Most people don't realize it, but everyone has the opportunity to have an impact on someone else's life," she said. "From the way you conduct yourself in any voluntary form of service, you may be a role model to someone. You don't know how your actions may affect them."
After graduation, Chanin plans to attend dental school. She hopes to attend more missions like the one in Peru to provide free dental care to less privileged parts of the world.
By Victoria Sagebiel, University Communications Intern
Student Star Profiles are produced by the offices of Information Technology Services, the Provost, Student Affairs, Undergraduate Studies and University Communications.