Marissa Willson, a senior anthropology major in the Cook Honors College, is the first IUP student selected for a Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience Fellowship (PULSE). PULSE's mission is to cultivate a community of young servant leaders to transform Pittsburgh through a year of service to nonprofit organizations.

Marissa says, "I am very excited to accept their offer and start at the end of the summer." She will serve 11 months at a nonprofit that partners with PULSE. Fellows live with their cohort while serving alongside them at various nonprofits around the community. Past PULSE partners include Planned Parenthood, Habitat for Humanity, Ten Thousand Villages, United Way, YMCA, and others. Fellows also participate in regular growth experiences, including retreats and workshops. PULSE Fellows come throughout the United States with a wide range of backgrounds from both public and private universities, but all gain transformative experience in service.

Marissa is no stranger to transformative service. She is a founder and the first president of IUP's chapter of Kacie's Cause. Kacie's Cause is a nonprofit organization committed to raising awareness about the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania. IUP's chapter is the first university chapter of the organization, the first in western Pennsylvania, and the first organized by students. The aim of the chapter is to educate students and the wider community about the dangers of opioid use, while advocating for prevention, education, and treatment and recovery programs for individuals and their families. The opioid/heroin epidemic is unfortunately devastating communities across the country, especially in our region, western Pennsylvania.

Department of Anthropology