A Mission to 'Climb Higher'" PSC student honored for efforts despite COVID

Deborah Swick-Cruse
Special to the News Tribune
Marissa Earle, a native of Petersburg, is the first recipient of the Climb Higher award, a new initiative at West Virginia University Potomac State College. A year-end celebration with all honorees will be held in the spring.

KEYSER - Marissa Earle, a native of Petersburg, is the first recipient of the Climb Higher award, a new initiative at West Virginia University Potomac State College.

The award recognizes resiliency for overcoming personal adversity; for exemplifying an outstanding work ethic inside and outside of the classroom; for practicing kindness and for displaying a positive attitude.

Faculty and staff at the college nominate students they believe are deserving of the award, which is given each month during the academic year.

“Marrisa exemplifies the Catamount spirit by ‘Climbing Higher’ in all aspects of her life. She has excelled in the classroom and on the athletic fields and courts. She has been engaged in the campus community and continues to look for ways to build positive relationships with others. The most impressive thing about Marissa isn't that she "climbs higher" herself, but that she also looks for ways to lift others up as well,” said Lucas Taylor, dean of Student Life.

Earle began her college journey in 2018, earning an associate degree in business management from Potomac State. She excelled as a player on the volleyball and softball teams and was named Female Sophomore Athlete of the Year for 2019-2020.

In addition to volunteering as a coach for the volleyball team, Earle serves as president of the Baptist Campus Ministries club which she organized in spring of 2019. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in business management at the college. During the past several years, Earle has taken mission trips to Puerto Rico and other countries to help the less fortunate. She overcame the obstacles that COVID presented this year and was able to make the trip, as were several friends and fellow Catamounts who dedicated a week of their summer vacation to volunteer their services on the mission trip.

“I fell in love with community service at a young age, but I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed it until after the mission trip to Puerto Rico. After going there for a week, I changed my major and plans for my future career and ended up doing an internship in Puerto Rico for the entire Summer of 2019,” Earle said.

Earle has been so inspired by her mission trips and helping people that she recently started a non-profit called Almost Heaven Hands of Hope.

“The goal for my non-profit is to provide hope to the community. It will be Christ-centered and will focus on showing love to others just as Jesus did. I want to do whatever I can to help those who are less fortunate or those who are unable to help themselves, as well as providing fun and positive opportunities to the community,” Earle said.