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Alumni Spotlight: Marissa Marquez

This month we honor Marissa Marquez, a committed community advocate and Assistant City Attorney with the Houston Legal Department's Office of the Inspector General. Before working with the City of Houston, Marissa was Deputy Senior Legal Counsel to Hope Andrade, the Commissioner Representing Employers at the Texas Workforce Commission in Austin. She was the first Latina attorney to work for the Office of the Commissioner Representing Employers.

"Both of my parents came from humble beginnings," Marissa said.

"My maternal grandparents were migrant workers who traveled as far north as Idaho each year performing migrant labor, but eventually settled in Laredo doing ranch and gardening work. They raised 8 children, including my mother. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents were of Mexican-descent, so they only spoke Spanish."

From the very beginning, thanks to the values instilled in her by her family, Marissa understood that education was the key to success. She credits Head Start with laying the foundation for her academic excellence. In the 2nd grade she was accepted into the gifted and talented program at her local elementary school in Laredo, Texas. In High School, she enrolled in advanced placement courses and tested out of several college classes. She graduated in the top 10 of her class with a 4.0 GPA. Marissa currently holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law.  

While pursuing her undergraduate degree at Baylor University, Marissa was the Public Service Chair for the Hispanic Student Association (HSA). As Chair, she organized regular trips to volunteer at a Head Start program in Waco, Texas. Marissa credits her incredible work ethic and drive to give back to her community to the example provided by her grandparents.

Today, in addition to her work for the city of Houston, Marissa is a passionate advocate for at-risk children and families. She has volunteered to help undocumented young people through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), assisted as a Spanish translator at the local free legal clinics, served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and served on the Strong Start board, an Austin non-profit working to prevent child abuse by assisting at-risk families. Currently, Marissa is a BikeHouston board member, and volunteers with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the American Heart Association's Go Red Campaign Committee.

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This post is an excerpt from Connections, NHSA's monthly newsletter for Head Start alumni. If you are a head start alum and would like to receive this newsletter, join the network today!