Service-Learning Advocate Spotlight: Marissa Hilmes

Marissa is one of the Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research’s returning Service-Learning Advocates. She hails from Spokane, Washington; a middle child with two older sisters and 2 little brothers. Marissa is a Junior in APU’s Nursing program, where she is already involved in nursing duties, including home care and clinical visits, which keeps her quite busy on top of all her other commitments.

One of the aspects of Marissa’s job at the CASLR that she values highly, is being able to be a part of the connection between APU and our community. She loves being instrumental in helping to make these connections happen in ways that benefit both the APU students in their educational goals as well as the needs of the community, which advances reciprocal teaching and learning.

Marissa is blessed by her fellow SLAs, graduate assistants, and permanent CASLR staff. They provide her with the necessary challenge and support needed in order to enable her to do her best in a positive and caring environment. She feels that Christ is evident in their individual lives, and is therefore a strong part of the CASLR. Expectation levels are set high, yet grace is extended when objectives do not go quite as planned, and instead are used as a positive opportunity for learning and growth. Marissa enjoys the CASLR weekly staff meetings, which is a time for collaboration, sharing, and guest speakers, such as the Mayor of Azusa. These have all made a lasting impact on her undergraduate experience.

As a nursing student, Marissa has a unique role at the CASLR, where she is the SLA in charge of most of the APU nursing courses. She is, therefore, distinctively capable of providing insight on streamlining and updating how the service-learning components are run and to strengthen each of the projects as well as the processes. With these courses, Marissa works mostly with local hospitals, clinics, wellness centers, and senior centers. As a nursing student who has been through some of these service-learning courses previously, Marissa sees great value in immersing students in the lives of actual patients from their very first nursing class onward. She is, therefore, committed to continuing the pursuit of excellence in these courses.

Working in the CASLR, Marissa has learned how to better handle blunders, encourage others, find ways to meet others’ needs, and to not be afraid of making mistakes and instead, learn from them. She has also been inspired to take the service-minded and community driven attitude of the CASLR as inspiration in how she interacts with her fellow nursing majors in their program. She is coming to a new realization that this is also a biblical calling.

Marissa’s top strengths are Individualization and Learner. Her teammates at the CASLR would describe her as always willing to help out, scheduled, task oriented, and the epitome of a “country girl.”


Mary C. Pearce is the Graduate Assistant Coordinator for Student Professional Development and Program Support  at the Center for Academic Service-Learning and Research, Working on a Masters of Science in College Counseling and Student Development