Auburn Home > Take 5 > Marisa Grimes

Marisa Grimes

Junior, international business
College of Business

Ocean View, Del., native Marisa Grimes is a junior in international business and a member of the Honors College. This July, Grimes is traveling to Oxford, England, to carry the Olympic flame as it makes its way to London for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. Through her involvement in numerous community service efforts, she received a scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and the opportunity to be a torchbearer. A world traveler, Grimes taught an English class at an orphanage in Ghana in 2008 and, with her peers, created the non-profit organization, Building Bright Future, or BBF, which focuses on improving the state of the orphanage and the education of the children.

1. How much of an honor is it to be selected to carry the Olympic torch before the Summer Games?

I cannot begin to describe how grateful I am to be given this opportunity by Coca-Cola. When I found out that I won this contest, I was in shock. Never did I think that I would be chosen for something like this! I am honored to be chosen to represent the youth of America during the Olympic Torch Relay.

2. Your accomplishments with a number of charitable organizations were key in your selection as torchbearer. Describe your passion for working with these groups.

I was chosen for my community service efforts, but for these three projects in particular:

1. In high school I created Operation Tumaini. In my first year, I was able to create and organize a benefit to purchase school uniforms for 400 Kenyan school children. Afterwards I developed a four-year plan for my volunteer club so that a sustainable service program would continue.

2. After many places in Alabama were destroyed in April 2011 due to deadly tornadoes, I started a drive called All In For Alabama with my roommate, Lauren Barkley. We drove a 26-foot Penske truck from Pennsylvania to Alabama, collecting emergency supplies from drop-off sites that we organized in six different states with more than 200 supporters joining the cause.

3. During the summer of 2008, I spent 25 days working in Bright Future Orphanage in Ghana. After my experience there, I helped found a nonprofit organization with several other people from my trip. Our goal at Building Bright Future, Inc. is to help fund the necessities including food, clean water, education and medical care for the 103 children at Bright Future. I serve on the board of directors as the director of fundraising. This year I was blessed to be a student at the University of Virginia's Semester at Sea program where I studied on a cruise ship and traveled to 12 countries around the world. One of the countries that we visited was Ghana. During my time there I was able to return to Bright Future Orphanage with a friend from my first trip and the VP of BBF, Leah Gerstley. After we left the orphanage, we realized that our help was still needed. We are currently working with the president of BBF, Natalia Hoyos, to continue to help support these children and their caretaker, Mama Peace. Our website is up and running at Check it out to learn more about what we do and how you can help!

3. You have traveled all over the world - 32 countries at last count. What perspective on the world have you gained from your travels, and which is your favorite country or region to visit?

I don't think I could pick a favorite country. It's like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. Each country that I have visited is unique and has something that no other place can offer. What I have found out is that the world is full of beautiful people. I played with children in the Amazon, talked to people in the townships of Cape Town, listened to a genocide survivor in Cambodia and had dinner with college students in Japan. Each person has a story. While traveling, take the time to talk to them. You'll never be able to fully immerse yourself in a culture without the help of a local.

4. What is it about Auburn that brought you to school here?

I have lived in the same area my whole life and as much as I love it, I wanted a change. My father went to school at South Carolina so we took a trip down to see some of the SEC schools. I fell in love with Auburn. Everything about the school and what it stands for was just perfect. I couldn't really explain what I wanted from a college until I saw Auburn. After that I knew I didn't have to. I already knew where I was attending college.

5. What do you plan to do after your graduate?

Honestly? I have no clue. I am majoring in international business and I have two minors in community and civic engagement and history, so I feel like I have a lot of choices. I'm just taking life as it comes at me. I hope whatever I choose to do will allow me to continue traveling and to continue to make a difference in the lives of others.

July 9, 2012