Marisa Chanin: Executive Director of Light the Night at FSU

Name: Marisa Chanin

Age: 20

Year: Junior

Major: Biology

Hometown: Orlando

Photo By: Nicholas Kielbasa

Her Campus (HC): Can you explain what Light the Night is?

Marisa Chanin (MC): The Light the Night Walk is an annual event that occurs all over the nation which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). It is a night where the FSU and Tallahassee communities come together to support and remember all those who have been affected by blood cancers. Families, friends, student organizations and even local businesses create teams to raise money leading up to the walk. All donations go towards funding better treatments for patients and research to find a cure. The event itself is filled with lots of music, food and entertainment, ending with a walk around FSU’s campus. What’s so special about it is that people who participate carry illuminated lanterns and “light the night” to give hope for all those battling cancer, which is truly a beautiful and inspiring experience.

Courtesy: Facebook

HC: That sounds incredible! As the executive director for the event here at FSU, what exactly do you do?

MC: As director, my job is to delegate tasks and oversee the planning committee. Every so often, I communicate and meet with people from the LLS’s corporate offices to ensure that we are taking every necessary step to put on a successful walk. I make sure that everyone is on top of deadlines, spread awareness for LLS and of course, I extend help where it is needed. Being on this committee for the past two years, I’ve learned that there are a lot of moving parts when planning an event for nearly a thousand people. I’ve been able to see what does and what doesn’t work and I believe that the one driving force for the success of any large fundraising event is passion. It really makes a difference and makes planning the event fun for everyone!

HC: How did you first get involved with Light the Night?

MC: A close family friend was diagnosed with Leukemia and I heard about the Light the Night Walk through his family. They were all participating in Gainesville and I wanted to go to support them but was not able due to prior commitments. I think it was through a chalking on campus that I found out FSU was also hosting a Light the Night Walk. After I saw just how many people this terrible disease affects, I was inspired to get involved by applying for the planning committee. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Courtesy: Facebook

HC: Are you involved with anything else on campus?

MC: I am on a committee for a group called WIMSE (Women in Math, Science, and Engineering) where I plan service events for the girls in the program. We recently worked with the Girl Scouts of Tallahassee and spent a day doing science experiments that ended with a trip to the Planetarium on campus! I’m also in the Pre-Dental Society where I’m given service opportunities, the chance to shadow dentists in the area and to listen to guest speakers from different dental schools.

HC: Where do you want to be in five years?

MC: I hope to be graduating from dental school and living somewhere up north! I really want to work with kids, so I would love to specialize in pediatrics.

HC: Who has inspired and helped you get to where you are today?

MC: My parents are my inspiration. They inspire me to constantly work hard for my dreams and life goals and to never give up when things get difficult. They’ve taught me so much and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today.

HC: Any advice for people wanting to gain leadership experience?

MC: Don’t be afraid to reach out to people! Find an organization or club that you’re passionate about and dedicate your time to it. I believe that what you put into a leadership role is what you’ll get out of it, so don’t take a position because it looks good. Take the opportunity as a new challenge and you will be surprised at where it may lead you. As a leader, you can make a difference, but it starts with you.

HC: For anyone interested in Light the Night, what is the best way to get involved?

MC: You can register for the 2016 Light the Night Walk now and begin fundraising! The walk takes place in November and anyone can participate, whether you join a team or join individually.

HC: Lastly, give us a fun fact about yourself!

MC: I love to travel! I recently visited Peru on a medical mission trip and it was one of the most amazing and eye-opening experiences. I learned about their healthcare system as well as Peruvian culture and I loved it. I was also able to see and hike Machu Picchu while I was there and it is incomparable to anything I’ve ever seen! I hope to travel a lot more in the future.

Visit Light the Night’s website to learn more about their mission and check out FSU’s event on Facebook!