Computer Science Graduate Takes 'Progress and Service' to Heart

When Marisa Hoenig was researching colleges, Georgia Tech was just a name on a list. Her brother, himself an engineering major at another university, gave her suggestions of what he deemed to be the best engineering schools.

Hoenig, a New Jersey native, decided to make the drive to Atlanta to see the place for herself.

“I just fell in love with Georgia Tech and the campus,” she said.

Though she planned to study engineering, Hoenig participated in the Google Computer Science Summer Institute program just before FASET Orientation that led to her changing her major to computer science. She’s graduating this week and will soon use her computing skills as a software developer consultant to help companies do better work.

Service has been a mark of Hoenig’s career as a student. She was involved in Key Club in high school and knew she wanted to continue that involvement in college. She joined Circle K at Georgia Tech, a service organization and collegiate chapter of Kiwanis International, and soon wanted to lead.

“I didn’t like some of the things about how the club was going, so I decided I would change it,” she said. She became president her second year, and got involved at the district level after that as webmaster and editor for the state of Georgia.

Now, she’s the top Circle K student official in Georgia — the governor — serving as a leader for 16 colleges and universities throughout the state. Hoenig was elected to the role and will serve until April 2019.

As governor, Hoenig visits other Circle K groups, leads a district board, and hosts events throughout the year. She also got to select a project for the year that all clubs take part in. Past projects had been more fundraising-oriented, but Hoenig wanted to focus on service. This year’s project is Food for All, and clubs around the state are encouraged to participate in projects devoted to fighting hunger and food insecurity. It also aligns with one of Hoenig’s favorite local service opportunities — volunteering at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. 

On campus, Hoenig served her fellow computing students as president of Women at the College of Computing (W@CC), which hosts networking and professional development events for women in computing. She started a mentoring program and increased outreach to the local tech community.

Though she studied computing, people have been a central role during Hoenig’s time at Tech. For younger students, she emphasized the importance of building relationships in college.

“The people you meet are so important, for relationships and also for future opportunities, learning from each other, and getting through classes,” she said. “There are so many classes I wouldn’t have gotten through without having friends to help me study.”

Working with people is part of what led her to her career path — that, and a love of travel that grew while studying abroad in Georgia Tech’s Barcelona program. In her consulting role, she’ll be based in New York but traveling much of the time.

“I love coding, but I don’t want to do it all day,” she said. “I’m a people person.” Hoenig said what she’d miss most about Tech would be the familiar faces she sees every day while walking across campus.

Her parting advice for students is not to be afraid to go for something that might seem out of reach. And if you don’t get it, don’t fret. Hoenig learned that lesson when she applied for an internship at Google.

“I didn’t get it, but I got an invite later for their CodeU program. “They saw my potential and wanted to give me a chance to perfect my skills."

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Kristen Bailey

Institute Communications