Being a campus president takes some serious organization, composure and confidence. Marisa Russell, a junior journalism major at Hofstra University, has those skills and then some. After being initiated into Zeta Phi Eta, the pre-professional fraternity in the communications arts and sciences, in the fall of 2014, Russell is now its classy leader. College LifestylesTM caught up with Russell to talk about her presidency and her experience thus far.
College LifestylesTM: As president of Zeta Phi Eta, what are your duties?
Marisa Russell: My duties vary greatly. They can be overwhelming, but also a lot of fun. I’m primarily responsible for completing paperwork and administrative duties that keep us afloat as a chapter, as well as keeping the contact information and status of all of the members. Most of my time is spent overseeing the recruitment chairs and all of the other chairs who plan events, raise money for our philanthropy, communicate with our alumni, etc. On top of that, I communicate with other organizations, our faculty and school advisers, the national chapter and every individual member. I don’t think a day goes by without receiving a Zeta-related message.
CL: What is your goal as the president of Zeta?
MR: My primary goal this year was to build a strong foundation for the organization and to put on a number of successful professional events, since that’s what we’re all about. I have a million other small goals, but mostly I just want everyone to love her time in Zeta and to get something out of it.
CL: What challenges come along with being president of an organization?
MR: For me, the biggest challenge has been balancing my friendships with my obligation to lead the organization fairly and appropriately. While I love every member greatly, it’s my job to enforce the rules and make sure the work gets done.
CL: What is the best part of being president of Zeta?
MR: The best part is seeing all of the work come together and seeing the rewards that your work achieves. This year we were honored to receive the campus chapter achievement award for professional outreach, and it was exciting to see all of our hard work pay off.
CL: How has Zeta influenced you personally and professionally?
MR: Zeta has given me a second family to turn to with any problem, concern or stupid joke I need to share. I’ve experienced a variety of different people from different backgrounds and it’s taught me that even a diverse group of people can come together as one. I’ve also grown overall as a leader, a friend and a colleague because of the experiences and issues I’ve come into contact with.
Professionally, Zeta has given me an outlet to grow in my career comfortably without judgment. I’ve gained a wonderful network of mentors and future colleagues, and it’s helped me prepare for the real world in a setting that allows me to make mistakes that won’t impact me. I don’t think I would’ve had the confidence to reach for the highest goals without the support of Zeta.
CL: What else are you involved in at Hofstra?
MR: I’m the president of Zeta, news editor for The Hofstra Chronicle and I write occasionally for Her Campus Hofstra. Additionally, I’m in Lambda Pi Eta.
CL: How do you balance such a hectic schedule?
MR: I keep a really detailed calendar, or calendars I should say. I also make daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists to keep myself on track with every club, organization and class that I’m a part of. I schedule time to call my parents, go to the gym and hangout with my friends or boyfriend. It’s tedious, but it’s what works for me. I also just try to stay ahead where I can.
CL: What advice do you have for club and organization members seeking a leadership position?
MR: Don’t let anyone discourage you or keep you from trying to achieve what you believe you can do. Being a leader of any club is difficult, but if you believe in yourself and put in the effort, you’ll be successful regardless.
Russell has some fabulous advice to offer co-eds interested in obtaining a position of leadership. Russell definitely knows how to balance her stuff while staying poised—the perfect example of a professional young adult.
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Images courtesy of Marisa Russell.
Graphic courtesy of College LifestylesTM.