TRANSFERmation Tuesday: Senior Writing Arts Major Marissa Stanko

A stack of books and an open notepad with a pen.

Today we feature Marissa Stanko, a senior Writing Arts major with a dual concentration in Creative Writing and Publishing and Writing for the Public, from Quinton, NJ (Salem County). Marissa is a transfer student from Salem Community College, a commuter student, and a first-generation college student. 

Marissa poses outside.

What is your inspiration?

I’ve always been a creative person. I’ve always been somebody who makes up stories in my head, from the time that I was a kid playing with my toys, up to now. And I, I take a lot of inspiration from books that I enjoy reading as well as kind of intertwining it with my own experiences with people, a lot of what I do is often character-based. So I kind of draw that from different people that I’ve met and experienced.

How would you tell a fellow student interested in your major that they’re choosing a worthwhile field?

Rowan’s Writing Arts is a very unique degree program. It’s a very unique field. It’s the only degree labeled writing arts in the United States, I believe. And the way it’s set up is really great because each student can basically customize the major to what they want to do, they can add as many concentrations or as few as they want so that they can get a lot of experience in different areas of writing. And writing itself is a very basic skill that can also become a very complex skill, the more you develop it. So it has applications and a lot of different areas. So it’s a really great unique and very rounded major.

Marissa poses in front of a dark background.

Could you share with us one moment that made you feel inspired or confident that you’re in the right field for you?

Absolutely. I can definitely pinpoint one moment when I was in my first creative writing class, creative writing one, and I workshopped my very first short story. Everyone just gave me so much positive feedback so that workshop was when I realized “Hey, I can write and I can do it well and people will enjoy what I write.”

Can you tell us a bit about your transition from community college to Rowan? 

I completed my associate degree at my community college in 2019, and I applied to Rowan in February of 2019 when the fall applications opened. Transitioning to Rowan was really great. Rowan was great about the whole process. I was able to follow through with my application and see what I needed to submit. I got some scholarships coming in, which was really helpful for me in covering my tuition. And Rowan has 20,000 students overall. So I thought, “Oh my goodness, it’s going to be such a big place,” but in reality, the classes themselves are about the same size as they were at my community college, and I was able to form a community and feel more at home.

Marissa poses against a pink background.

Are there any professors that you feel especially helped you get where you are today?

I have a lot of professors that have helped me in the department. I love all of my professors. But definitely, the two professors that have been most influential for me are Professor Keri Mikulski, who was the professor of the creative writing class that made me realize how much I love writing, and Professor Amanda Haruch, who was my internship mentor. Professor Mikulski is a wonderful writer in her own right and she’s somebody who not only encourages you to realize that you can write if you keep working on it, she pushes you to go beyond what you already know. The way Professor Mikulski teaches is not so much a focus on grades as so much, how much you try and how much you can improve by the end of the semester. So what I learned from her is to tap into the ways that I write and to develop and to learn how I can better myself as a writer and to practice more and to try new things, even though they’re scary. 

Why Rowan?

Well, I chose Rowan for multiple reasons. One, it’s local and tuition is less expensive, and I hate traveling, so I wanted to go to a college that was close. I didn’t want to move halfway across the country. And I also ended up choosing Rowan specifically, out of my local colleges, because they had the Writing Arts program. I had a teacher at my community college who attended the Writing Arts program as well, and she recommended it to me.

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Story by:
Rachel Rumsby, sophomore communication studies and public relations double major

Photos provided by:
Marissa Stanko, senior writing arts major

Header photo courtesy of:

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