It wasn't about money or who I was going to meet. I had done that. For me, it was all about, 'What am I going to do to change the world? Whose life am I going to change?'
Marissa Calhoun '10 felt something was missing. Raised by her grandmother to believe that service to others was not a choice but a responsibility, Calhoun was a Posse scholar and recipient of the Eleanor D. Decker Prize for Women at Bucknell, where she double majored in English and women's and gender studies and pursued many service-learning opportunities, including taking an Inside-Out course with inmates at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy. But as her media career took off, she put her commitment to service on the backburner.
"As a young alumna, as a woman, and as an African-American woman at that, I felt pressure to really focus on my career," she says. "I felt that if I wanted to move up, I'd have to work extra hard to prove myself."
Calhoun began her career at CNN as a news assistant on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, then made brief stops at CBS' 48 Hours and Person to Person before becoming associate producer on Katie Couric's ABC talk show. Within three years, Calhoun had climbed the TV newsroom ladder, but she didn't feel fulfilled.
She consciously took a different direction in August 2013, joining the staff at the Emmy-nominated CNN Heroes. Rather than focusing on mayhem, murder or the latest celebrity shenanigans, Calhoun now is a field producer researching, verifying and producing uplifting stories of everyday people who have overcome extraordinary odds. The work is more meaningful and inspires her to re-engage in service to her community and alma mater, particularly as a member of Bucknell's Black Alumni Association and as a mentor to college-age students.
"Finding my job at Heroes redefined what success means to me," she says. "It wasn't about money or who I was going to meet. I had done that. For me, it was all about, 'What am I going to do to change the world? Whose life am I going to change?' "
Turns out it was her own.