Marsha attended Arlington High School, where she participated in marching band and served as drum major, a role historically occupied by men. When invited to drum major camp in rural Indiana, Marsha realized she was not only one of the few women but also the only African-American. But where others may have seen a challenge, she saw opportunity. It wasn't long before Marsha and her fellow drum majors were able to break down stereotypes and embrace their true common ground—music.
For Marsha McGriff, barriers are made to be broken. So are comfort zones.
After graduation, Marsha headed to Tuskegee University in Alabama to study political science. She soon followed this with a master's degree in higher education. While at Tuskegee, Marsha developed a passion for mentorship rooted in her own experience with the late Lawrence Hanks, then-chairman of Tuskegee's Department of Political Science and later a professor of political science at IU Bloomington.
Paying it forward: The late Lawrence Hanks helped Marsha see that there were no barriers and anything in life was attainable. She helps her students do the same.
Marsha soon became director of IUPUI's Nina Scholars Program, which provides academic support and resources to students who traditionally have difficulty gaining access to higher education. She then served as director of student services for the IU Center on Philanthropy, while also holding a position as an adjunct faculty member in the Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis.
In 2012, Marsha was appointed director of the prestigious Herman C. Hudson & James P. Holland Scholars Program on the IU Bloomington campus. The program works to recruit, retain and graduate students—many of whom are first- and second-generation college students—with outstanding records of academic achievement, strong leadership experiences and a commitment to social justice.
"I run the largest scholarship program at Indiana University, and every time I think about that, I think, 'Wow, that is just extra crazy.' Because it shows the university's commitment to diversity - not just saying it, but putting resources and dollars behind it."