Marisa Fang

A strong belief in the transformative power of education

More than 15 years ago, Rainier Scholars was just an idea. Students and families in Cohort l started a journey with hope and a promise that hard work would pay off. As Marisa Fang remembers “I knew two things at my core — I had potential and I had a family who believed in me.”

 “I’ve always wanted to serve communities that reflected the one that I grew up in.”

Marisa Fang, Cohort I, University of Washington, class of 2013, Goizueta School of Business,
Emory University

“When I joined Rainier Scholars, I was a painfully shy 6th grader who was afraid to use her voice. But I learned that I like to be challenged. I was surrounded by teachers and staff who saw I was capable and pushed me beyond my comfort zone.”

Marisa describes herself as a self-conscious middle school student who made a daily bus ride from her South Seattle neighborhood to a private school that felt like a different world… “A place where I questioned if I belong…”

But in school, Marisa recognized her ability to learn quickly and to be self-motivated. Her confidence grew. Whether in a classroom, a leadership retreat or an internship setting, Marisa used every opportunity to learn and grow. She served as a student advisor and role model mentoring other young scholars.

Marisa attended the University of Washington and continued to discover her passions. She graduated in 2013 and was hired in her first full-time position in HR at The Boeing Company. In an unforgettable display of generosity, Marisa donated her entire first paycheck to Rainier Scholars. The note attached said her gift would be matched by her employer. This says everything you need to know about Marisa Fang.

After several years of working, Marisa made the decision to attend graduate school in Atlanta at Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business. Recently when applying for graduate level internships around the country, one special opportunity emerged as a hopeful choice. After a rigorous interview process, Marisa was selected as a top candidate to join the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this summer as a Graduate Intern.

It was a full-circle moment. Over 15 years ago when Rainier Scholars was still just an idea, Bill Gates, Sr. learned about Rainier Scholars over lunch. He was inspired by the idea. Rainier Scholars became one of the first education grant recipients of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“I’ve always wanted to serve communities that reflected the one that I grew up in. Through Rainier Scholars I have seen the transformative power of education. I’ve always wanted to work for an organization with a similar mission.”

“The Gates Foundation partnership with Rainier Scholars, and its Seattle roots have always intertwined with my story so it’s really full-circle that I get to go back home and serve my community by means of the Foundation.”

This is indeed a full circle moment.