Marissa Handley lives out her belief to serve others

Dinuba Teenage Citizen of the Year candidate is active in Future Farmers of America, Fusion Club and Floral Team

photo by Kenny Goodman
Marissa Handley is one of three candidates for the 2023 Teen Citizen of the Year, which will be announced at the Dinuba Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet on Feb. 9.

DINUBA – Marissa Handley says her desire to serve others, along with a medical battle she’s dealt with during much of her high school experience, has been a driving force in her desire to run for Dinuba Teenage Citizen of the Year.
Handley is one of three candidates for the 2023 Teen Citizen of the Year, which will be announced at the Dinuba Chamber of Commerce annual Awards Banquet on Feb. 9. Also in contention for the award are fellow Dinuba High School seniors David Camarillo and Sydney Vela.
“I believe one of the greatest things you can do in life is to be of service to others,” Handley said. “I was really shy when I was a freshman. Then it started when I was a junior and became student council president, and got out of my bubble. I want to inspire other people to get out of their box.”
Also in her junior year, Handley was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (Graves disease), a condition that caused her to miss a considerable amount of school time. The illness can cause weight loss, irregular heartbeat, memory problems and muscle pain.
“It was really hard for me, but I would like to show the community that even if you have an illness or disability, you can still be a productive member of society,” she said. “Although my illness doesn’t define who I am or make me weak, it’s what shaped me into the person I am today.”
Marissa’s primary school activities have been in FFA (she showed her goat at the Tulare County Fair), the Fusion Club (designed to get special education students more involved in school activities) and Floral Club. She said the Fusion Club did a skit from the movie “Madagascar” during a recent school assembly rally, and she’s served as a club vice president for four years.
Handley said the Floral Club meets two days out of the week, and students work with floral arrangements, flower identification and history, and participate in competitions. She’s also a two-year member of Link Crew.
Community service activities include volunteering at Second Hand Animal Shelter with duties including walking dogs along with cleaning and feeding. As part of Handley’s 100-plus hours of community service, she has donated 40 bags to the homeless filled with items including toothbrush, comb, soap and other toiletries.
“I would like to encourage Dinuba to make regular contributions to the community, no matter how big or small,” she said. “One small gesture can make a huge impact.”
Despite her medical challenges, Marissa achieved a 4.0 grade point average as a junior and has a cumulative 3.44 GPA. She plans to attend California State University-Monterey Bay and major in business marketing.
When it comes to service, Handley said she draws inspiration from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King—“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve… you only need a heart full of grace, A soul generated by love.”