Marissa Black

Business major channels energy into Spanish minor, the presidency of Spanish honor society and founding AU’s Spanish club

#myJourney -- It started with a suggestion from a professor: You know what, Marissa? You should run a 5K. 

So she did and got a bunch of others to run with her. And now AU senior Marissa Black is organizing future runs to raise money for charity, all while excelling in her classes, interning at a tech firm, working at AU’s College of Business, and creating the university’s first-ever Spanish club.

Black is adept at taking a good idea and running with it. She’s open to all the possibilities before her and never scoffs at a suggestion for exploring, growing, or improving. Her acting on a professor’s musing about her energetic prowess is just one example of this go-getter at work at AU. 

Black knew she wanted to study marketing, and it was easy to decide on AU. The beautiful campus is warm, welcoming, and close to her beloved hometown: Greenville.

Black says she also chose AU because of the university’s refreshing Christian perspective on business. She also liked how academic achievement is valued and rewarded, and faculty members care about students both academically and socially. 

“The professors are the big thing that sets AU apart from other schools,” she says. “They sincerely care about how you’re doing—they even pray for you.”

She’s thriving with a double  business concentration in Marketing and Supply Chain Management, but her minor in Spanish has emerged, not surprisingly, as another fulfilling source of creativity and service. 

Black fell in love with the Spanish language and culture in high school, and when she got to AU, she was excited to continue her studies. AU’s atmosphere has enabled her to connect with students and professors in the classroom and beyond. She remembers fondly when Spanish professor Dr. Conny Palacios and her husband invited students over for a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast. 

“My professors care about my studies and my life outside of school,” Black explains. “They’re phenomenal.”

Last summer, Black spent five weeks studying in Costa Rica, where she lived and breathed the country, practicing her Spanish with anyone she could. She chatted at length with taxi drivers, security guards, and her host family, and she’s still in touch with many of the people she met. 

“I love talking to people and building relationships,” Black says.
 
When she returned to campus, she continued creating connections by teaming up with a fellow student to start the university’s inaugural Spanish club. Things came together fast, and their first event in November 2017 was a success. The bilingual Noche de Alabanza (Night of Worship) drew over 100 people from AU and the surrounding community. They hosted another evening of Spanish and English praise in the Spring of 2018, bringing in a well-known local worship leader and welcoming over 200 guests. In addition to the special worship nights, the club hosts monthly meetings and salsa dances.

Black was also recently elected to serve as President of the campus’ chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, a national Spanish honor society. 

“She will do a great job—her energy is incredible,” Dr. Palacios says. “In my classes, Marissa always participates and makes a difference.”

Black plans to continue making a difference after graduating; she’d like to teach English abroad before pursuing a marketing career.