The typical college student deals with their share of struggles, but Winona State University student Marissa Williams faced much bigger challenges than most others as she worked toward her degree in marketing.

“My hardest challenges were personal. In the past 12 months, I lost both of my grandparents and my father rather unexpectedly,” said Williams.

The sudden losses have been difficult to handle, but Williams said she manages by taking life day-by day.

“I like to have everything in my life planned out, but this past year has shown me that things don’t always turn out the way they should or the way I want them to,” she said. “I try to stay positive through whatever challenges I face in life.”

The support of faculty members and other mentors on campus has also been important for Williams.

“Every professor and numerous faculty I have encountered have impacted me academically and personally throughout my three years at WSU,” she said.

Williams said she appreciates the atmosphere of collegiality and collaboration that WSU endorses.

“I love that the College of Business encourages teamwork because it has set me up for success in the future,” she said. “WSU has also taught me to accept people for who they are and that everyone has their own strengths that will benefit a team in some way.”

Through her years at WSU, Williams has been involved in a variety of clubs and organizations, including the American Marketing Association in which she holds the position of club treasurer. She also served as an At-Large member on the College of Business Dean’s Advisory Board (DAB) in fall 2016 and was elected chair of the DAB her final semester.

As she approaches graduation, Williams, of Kenosha, Wis., finds comfort in knowing how proud she’s making her family by reaching this achievement.

“Every day, I have to get through a lot of personal pains in order to achieve the end goal of obtaining a degree,” she said.

But in the end, the struggle is all worth it: “This is something all of them always wanted me to do.”

After graduation Williams plans to attend graduate school to receive a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration.

“Work hard, set goals and make a plan. I set short term and long-term goals all the time and I work extremely hard to meet or exceed my own expectations. This attitude is the key to success,” said Williams.

WSU Spring Commencement Ceremonies will be at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Friday, May 5, in McCown Gymnasium. The 9 a.m. ceremony will feature the College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts. The 12:30 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Business and the College of Science and Engineering. The 4 p.m. ceremony will feature the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. For more information visit or contact University Communications at 507-457-5024.

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Kassidy Jackson

Kassidy graduated in 2019 with a BA in Public Relations and minors in Advertising and Dance. She is from Rosemount, MN and her interests include dancing, choreographing and listening to music.

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