Marissa Holst

Marissa Holst plans to become a professor and continue her research. When she isn’t studying she enjoys spending time with her partner and family, reading novels and catching up on television shows, and spending time outdoors playing Frisbee golf or sitting around bonfires.

Personal experience inspires Marissa

Marissa’s interest in human development and family studies began with her own life experiences. When she was a newborn, a family adopted Marissa.

“My mom found out she was pregnant with me during a cancer screen,” she said. “They found me and gave my mom two options: continue treatment and terminate her pregnancy or have me and forgo treatment. That in itself inspires me. It’s a wonderful gift to give someone.”

The family that adopted Marissa, was pretty large and tight-knit. Because of this, she spent a lot of time with her extended family and became very close with them. Her summers were spent going on trips and spending the night at her different cousins’ houses. Marissa really appreciates all the support and knowledge her family life gave her.

“You have a unique opportunity to learn from one another,” she said. “In any family people experience different things. You get to share what you know and they do the same; it’s reciprocal.”

When it came time to choose graduate schools, Marissa looked for a place that matched her research interests in extended families and somewhere she and her partner could make a home. It was hard moving away from her family, but Marissa said she’s glad she did it.

“Sure, moving to Iowa is isolating, but because of our strong relationship my family knows what’s going on in my life,” she said. “They inspire, support, and push me to the best I can be.”

Because of her personal experience, Marissa is enjoying researching while obtaining her Ph.D. She especially enjoys studying how extended families network and affect the development of emerging adults. Following graduation, she hopes to continue her research while teaching.

“I want to be somewhere I can do both,” she said. “I want to focus on teaching, but I don’t want to close the door on research. I want to do both.”