Marisa Messina ’16

Hometown: McLean, VA
Majors: symbolic systems, French

What is your favorite class? Why?

What a challenging question for someone whose interests span every realm, from the “techie”—like CS 103, an overview of the mathematical foundations behind computer science—to the “fuzzy,” including all of the phenomenal French literature classes I’ve taken, such as Courtly Love: Deceit and Desire in the Middle Ages. I’m currently studying abroad in Paris, and I love the international perspective that my Comparative Health Systems class offers, particularly since it is laden with the insider perspectives of the French hospital director who serves as our professor!

What is your favorite off-campus activity? Why?

I really enjoy backpacking; I even go on day hikes on the weekends at Stanford! My SPOT (Stanford Pre-Orientation Trip) trip inspired me to embrace my passion for the outdoor lifestyle, and since then, my hiking boots have earned a front-row spot in my closet.

Describe your favorite Admit Weekend experience (either as a ProFro or a current student).

From the moment my Admit Weekend started, there was an amazing and immediately palpable comradeship among the prospective Class of 2016 members. I will never forget whirling my way around a fountain holding hands with my new best friends and chanting “Sixteen!” before leaping out dripping wet, laughing till our stomachs hurt, then racing on in search of the next fountain in which to plunge. (If you have been fountain hopping, I trust you’ll understand the magic therein! And if you haven’t, ’tis time!)

List your top 5 favorite things to do at Stanford.

It’s hard to choose a “Top 5” when I’m troubled to find a non-idyllic moment amidst my Stanford routine. My ideal day often includes some of the following (and yes, I put six, forgive me!):

  • I love to run the Dish just as dawn is breaking; it’s magical watching the sun gleam over the still-semi-sleeping Stanford village. 
  • My favorite way to study in between classes is with my laptop perched on the edge of Terman Fountain and my feet dangling lazily in the water.
  • In the afternoon for a pick-me-up, you’ll often find me snuggled on the couch of CoHo for a cozy heart-to-heart with a friend over steaming, creamy mugs of hot chocolate.
  • Whenever I have a question after class, I poke my head in to the office hours of one of my professors and I’m guaranteed a fantastic conversation.
  • As often as I’m invited (and sometimes when I’m not!), I help cook dinner at my favorite co-op, Columbae, where the vegetarian food and down-to-earth, into-art lifestyle welcomes me (and everyone) with open arms.
  • And a dreamy evening bike ride sometimes culminates at the top of the brutal-to-bike-but-well-worth-it hill that houses the Student Observatory—even now that my awesome Introductory Astrophysics class is over—where I love to drink in the magic of our universe one star at a time.

Provide a brief description of the activities you are involved in as an undergraduate at Stanford.

As a sophomore with diverse interests, dangerously good time-management skills and a passion for trying new things, I am blessedly cursed with an interminable list of extracurricular pursuits. Among my many activities, I particularly enjoy those that relate to my interests in writing, law and psychology/human relationships. In addition to blogging for the Stanford Admissions Office, I write and copyedit for The Stanford Daily. Law-wise, I was on the Stanford Mock Trial Team last year—a pursuit that followed my high-school mock trial experience nicely—and I’m currently a member of the Pre-Law Society Executive Board, which facilitates law-related learning experiences for undergraduates. I am a member of the Stanford Alumni Mentoring Student Leadership Team, which facilitates mentoring between past and present Stanford students, and I put my foreign language skills to use tutoring Spanish-speaking employees through the Habla El Día program. I’m constantly discovering new things to try and unearthing fantastic new opportunities, so check back frequently for the updated list of my endeavors!

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