"Pittsburgh embraces its history, but is open to growth and technology.”
Marissa Haynes pinballed around the northeast before landing in the Pittsburgh region and settling down for the long haul. Originally from Connecticut, Marissa first found her way to eastern Pennsylvania for her undergraduate degree at Alvernia University and then came across the state for her master's degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. After a nationwide job search, she landed a position at Bridgewater College in Virginia coordinating student programming. Looking to advance her career and wanting to move closer to family, she found herself back in the Pittsburgh region just two years later. "I was looking for a small, private institution that reflected the values I try to have in my day-to-day life. The four pillars of Seton Hill University's mission - welcoming, serving, learning and celebrating - really resonate with me. It feels like the perfect fit."
As coordinator of service outreach, Marissa focuses on the "serving" pillar, acting as a liaison between community agencies and students seeking opportunities that range from volunteering in local food pantries to traveling into Pittsburgh to work with immigrant children and English-as-a-second-language students. Marissa's goal is to strengthen the culture of service on campus and within the community that will take students beyond their college experience. "There's a lot of negativity out in the world and sometimes it's easy to lose faith. I have the opportunity to work with so many passionate organizations and students. That bolsters my faith in our community and faith for humanity, which is really rewarding."
Another initiative Marissa leads for the college is the Sister to Sister mentoring program at Greensburg Salem Middle School. This program pairs African American girls with their Seton Hill contemporaries, helping them to aspire to college and leadership roles themselves. She is also working to revitalize the school's Alternative Spring Break Program this year, taking students across the country for week-long service opportunities with Seton Hill and the Vincentian Family. Overall, Marissa loves that every day at Seton Hill is a little different from the one before. "This job feeds me personally and professionally. I'm excited to come to work every day."
In her free time, Marissa and husband Matthew enjoy exploring the many treasures of Westmoreland County like the White Rabbit Café and Patisserie in downtown Greensburg, and hiking the Laurel Highlands trails with their rescue dog, Odin. As new homeowners, the couple is fast becoming part of the community, and participates in a weekly crop share from Sarver Hill Organic Farms for fresh produce. "We love being able to explore so much nature while having easy access to all of the amenities Pittsburgh has to offer."
The couple often ventures into the city to enjoy the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in Highland Park, catch a classic movie at Lawrenceville's Row House Cinema or check out some of the many workout spots, healthy eats or outdoor adventures suggested by Fitt Pittsburgh ("Fittsburgh"). They also enjoy exploring the ever-growing brewery scene, frequenting Grist House in Millvale and holding down the bar stools regularly at the venerable Church Brew Works in Bloomfield. Marissa is excited by how many people are invigorating the city through entrepreneurship and lending their talents to community engagement.
"What's great about Pittsburgh is that we all gather when something bad happens or when something great happens. A city that comes together like that, as a community, is what makes people want to give back and invest in helping Pittsburgh grow and evolve - for everyone and with everyone."