Missouri State University
Marli Coonrod

Marli Coonrod

  • Major: Public Relations
  • High School: Nevada High School
  • Hometown: Nevada, Mo.
  • Activities: Student Government Association; Panhellenic Association; MSU: I'm First; Lambda Pi Eta communications leadership group

A leader in the making

As a first-generation student, Marli Coonrod struggled her freshman year before learning a valuable lesson. 

She went from an unconfident freshman to a self-reliant student who has interned in Washington, D.C.

“When I first entered college, I thought leaders had it all figured out,” she said. “But after I began immersing myself in different leadership roles, I realized the leaders aren’t perfect and the best are those who are willing to admit their mistakes. I’ve also learned failure is one of the keys to achieving success.”

Helping other first-generation students

“Like many college students, I want to make my parents proud by achieving a college education, but to me it is so much more than this."

Her first year on campus was not a smooth transition.

Coonrod is a first-generation student, which means she was the first in her family to attend college. She often found herself not knowing where to search for answers.

But the public relations major had determination and drive, and parents who encouraged her to follow her dreams.

“My hope is that my time on Missouri State’s campus will inspire every other first-generation student to achieve their goals.”

Her experience inspired her to cofound a group called “MSU: I’m First,” an organization dedicated to supporting first-gen students on campus.

Representing on Capitol Hill

During 2016, with support from Dr. Dee Siscoe, Missouri State’s vice president for student affairs, Coonrod was selected for an internship program in Washington, D.C.

She spent two months interning on Capitol Hill. She was unsure at first because she had not traveled far outside of Missouri, but knew she had to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It was so cool to be surrounded by politicians I have seen on the TV my entire life. It was an incredible experience to represent Missouri State University in D.C. I know this would not have been possible without the support of Dr. Siscoe and her staff, along with my friends and family cheering me on every step of the way.” 

Coonrod with group in D.C.