Alumni Story: Marisa Smucker

When Marisa Smucker joined PULSE in 1994, the program was in its pilot year. She and her seven fellow PULSErs came to understand the challenges inherent in being part of a program’s pilot group. Today PULSE is well known in Pittsburgh, but in 1994 it was thanks to mavericks like Marisa Smucker who forged the path. “Being a part of something brand new is both exciting and frustrating,” Marisa states.  She and her fellow PULSErs had the task and responsibility of molding PULSE into what it is today. And yet in spite of these challenges, it was all worth it for Marisa who met great people, discovered her passion, and came to love Pittsburgh in the process.

Marisa served with the East End Cooperative Ministry, a long time PULSE partner. She had the opportunity to work with low-income communities. It was a first experience in supporting African American families, an experience which helped her world grow. PULSE sparked in Marisa a passion for learning about cultures and a passion for helping people. For the last seven years, Marisa has lived in Costa Rica teaching English and hosting mission trips.

As Marisa readily admits, that first year in PULSE was not easy. There were challenges. But as Marisa eloquently explains, “PULSE taught me that life is not always about the outcome, but the journey.” And as most PULSErs can attest, Marisa asserts that the best part of the program is “definitely the people.” The ability to share experiences and learn from other young people and people in the community is a key component to the PULSE program and a huge reason PULSE remained such an important year in Marisa’s life. She was able to learn from both the successes and challenges of that first year and those lessons are invaluable.  Ultimately, she discovered that in the end, it was “about giving every last ounce of me and not being concerned about what I would get in return.” That philosophy has driven Marisa to continue her passion, helping people both in the United States and abroad. Upon her return to the United States, Marisa will be working as a Church Relations Associate with Mennonite Mission Network.

Story by PULSE fellow Molly Recka.

Read more stories about PULSE Alumni. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.