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Central MA College Standout: Clark University’s Allegra Marra

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Clark senior Allegra Marra's love for making a difference took her all the way to Southern Africa last year.

Allegra Marra believes in making a difference. A senior at Clark University majoring in International Development and Social Change, she is a student ambassador for the Office of Admissions, outreach coordinator for the Community Engagement Office, a member of the Fiat Lux Community Services Honor Society and a volunteer with the HOPE Coalition, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and ONE Campus Challenge. The 21 year-old from Cranston, Rhode Island has helped to develop an English Literacy program for HIV positive support groups in Nambia, plan a week long summer camp on global issues and leaderships skills for youth from around the world, and create a program about efficient storm water management in Main South.

A Conversation with Allegra Marra

SW: What made you choose your school?

AM: Clark just felt different than other colleges I visited. I loved the small community feel and the fact that the campus was so open to the surrounding community. All the students seemed passionate about something and were very focused on making a difference. This is something about Clark students I still see today and it always inspires me.

SW: Most memorable course or professor?

AM: I have had a couple of favorite courses throughout my four years at Clark but one that stands out the most was actually my first year intensive course called Making a Difference. We had a weekly three-hour class but also were placed at a community organization. I was placed at the Main South Community Development Corporation (MSCDC) right down Main Street and immediately, as a first year student, I was exposed to the community outside of Clark’s gates. This course really sparked my interest in community development and also challenged me to think a lot about the successes and challenges of this type of work. Ever since that first semester I have been exploring different community organizations around our campus because there is so much out there!

SW: What leadership roles have you taken on campus?

AM: My biggest leadership role on campus and where I focus most of my attention is with ONE Campus Challenge. ONE is a large campaigning and advocacy organization of people all around the world taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease. Our campus chapter is part of a contest where universities from around the country compete to see who can bring most awareness to these issues on their college campuses. Our chapter is currently in 5th place out of over 100 schools! We organize events on campus where students can learn more about these issues and write to Congress to try and put more attention on them.

SW: How have you been involved in the community?

AM: I currently volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters and an organization called HOPE Coalition. This is my third year doing Big Sisters, and I visit a local elementary school once a week to meet up with my Little Sister. I help her with homework, we do arts and crafts, jump rope, and basically whatever she feels like doing that day. HOPE Coalition stands for Healthy Options for Prevention and Education and is a group of about 20 high school students from all the different high schools in the area. HOPE is a youth-adult partnership coalition created to reduce youth violence, substance use and promote adolescent mental health throughout the city of Worcester. This semester we worked with an artist from the Worcester Art Museum where we learned about different kinds of art and got to make some really cool pieces. In the spring we are planning an art exhibit to show off these pieces that represent what hope means to us. Spending time at both of these organizations are definitely the highlights of my week.

In past years I have been involved at the Boys and Girls Club helping to coach their swim team, the Regional Environmental Council working on promoting their mobile market and weekly farmers markets, and the American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts where I helped develop materials for the International Measles Initiative.

SW: What’s your favorite place to go to on campus?

AM: This is going to sound pretty nerdy but I really love the library. Clark’s library has the coolest shape and even as a senior I am finding new little nooks and crannies to make my study home. I really love the fourth floor where they have these big windows that overlook the hills of Worcester. It’s really relaxing even amid all the school craziness.

SW: What is your favorite extracurricular activity?

AM: Definitely Big Sisters. It is refreshing to take a couple hours out of my hectic week and go visit my Little Sister. You would be amazed how much fun I had recently when we went bowling! I feel it’s really important to get off campus sometimes and out of the Clark bubble where you can sometimes get caught up in busy schedules, essays, and endless amounts of reading.

SW: Where do you go and what do you do when you leave campus?

AM: My favorite thing to do off campus is EAT. I love exploring all the food that Worcester has to offer. Even just walking down Main Street you can get West African, Vietnamese, Mexican and Jamaican food. My current favorite restaurants are Bocado, Corner Grille, and Da-Lat. I am also in love with breakfast food so I am in the right place! Worcester has so many cool diners and I feel like I need to make a checklist of them all so I can make sure I eat at them at least once before graduating.

SW: What is your favorite quote?

AM: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

SW: What or who has had the greatest influence on you to date? Why?

AM: I would have to say my mom. She is such a strong woman and even through tough times she always makes sure me and my sister were happy. I have learned so much from her about being an independent and caring woman and I am so thankful for that! I always look forward to calling her during busy weeks or going home to RI and just talking with her after a long couple of weeks at school. She is just comforting to be around and always reminds me that everything happens for a reason and to push through hard times.

SW: What would someone be surprised to learn about you?

AM: I spent a semester of my junior year studying abroad in Namibia, which is located in Southern Africa. We also spent some time in South Africa in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Throughout my semester I learned an incredible amount about the history, politics, religion, and development of Southern Africa while also getting to live with different families and intern at a women’s health clinic in Namibia. This was definitely a life changing experience for me and I think about it almost every day. I also got to pet lions which was incredible especially since I am kind of a crazy cat person.

SW: Do you have any suggestions for Worcester as a college city?

AM: Worcester has so much to offer so don’t wait to start exploring! Don’t be afraid to get off campus! Whether it be volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club or going to try new restaurants, just do it! The community has a lot of cool events too, one of my favorites being stART on the Street, a huge arts and crafts festival with over 200 vendors!

SW: If you could do just one thing, locally, nationally or globally to make a difference, what would it be?

AM: This is a pretty big question but the first thing that comes to mind is smile. You would be surprised what a simple smile can do to brighten someone’s day so if I could do that for someone, then I feel like I have made some type of a difference.


GoLocalWorcester presents Central MA College Standout, a weekly feature that profiles college and university students in Central MA or from the region. Join us every Tuesday for a look at the careers and lifestyles of today’s local college student. If you have suggestions for a profile, email susanwagnerpr@gmail.com.

Susan Wagner is the president of Susan Wagner PR. In this challenging economy, she has begun a new division to offer affordable start-up packages to new and emerging small businesses and non-profit organizations that include professional writing services, websites, collateral, marketing, social media, grassroots outreach and PR campaigns.


Related Slideshow: College Guide 2013: Best Places To Eat On A College Budget

Our college lifestyle experts have hand-picked these restaurants as great dining options for students on a college budget. Enjoy!

Prev Next

Make a Meal out of it

One way to eat cheap is to pick a food that is generally inexpensive and make a meal out of it. Wings are a college favorite that won’t run up your bill. Whether you have them delivered, take-out, or for a night out, wings can be a great option. Check out one of Worcester’s favorite spots for wings, Wings Over Worcester

1 Kelley Square, Worcester, MA

(508) 421-9464

Hours: Sun-Wed 11 AM - 1 AM, Thur-Sat 11 AM - 2 AM


Also, keep an eye out for GolocalWorcester’s College Guide on Best Places to Get Wings later this week! 

Prev Next

Find Free Stuff

What is better than free stuff? Nothing when you’re a college kid. If you’re smart you’ll want to find restaurants where you can get the most bang for your buck. Smokestack Urban Barbecue offers a bacon happy hour on Thursdays where they feature; you guessed it, free bacon.

139 Green St, Worcester, MA

(508) 363-1111

Hours: Sun Noon - 8 PM, Mon-Thur 4:30 PM - 9 PM, Fri-Sat Noon -10 PM. 

Prev Next


If you’re over 21, you know that the biggest part of your bill usually isn’t your meal, but rather your drinks. Though it may be fun to order drinks when you go out, places that allow you to bring your own drinks will save you tons of cash. West Side Steak & BBQ has a great menu and allows you to bring in your own beer or wine.

2 Richmond Ave, Worcester, MA

(508) 756-6328

Hours:  Mon-Thur 11 AM - 9 PM,  Fri-Sat 11 AM - 10 PM, Sun Noon - 9 PM

For more about drinking around campus, keep an eye out for GolocalWorcester’s College Guide on the Best Bars to Grab a Drink later this week!

Prev Next

All You Can Eat

Pay one price and eat all you want; is there a better deal than that? Though buffets may get a bad rap, there are plenty of good ones around. At Pampas Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse located in Worcester, you can get the all-you-can eat special for $22.99 every day before 5 PM. 

145 East Central St, Worcester

(508) 757-1070

Hours: Open 7 days: 11:30 AM - 10 PM 

Prev Next

Lunch Buffets

Why eat dinner when you can fill up on lunch? Many restaurants offer lunch buffets so you can get the most out of your midday meal without breaking the bank. Sapporo Korean Barbecue & Sushi is an Asian restaurant in Worcester County that offers great buffet options.

50 E Main St, Westborough, MA

(508) 898-1880

Hours: Tues-Sat 11:30 AM - 10 PM,  Sun 12 PM - 9 PM 

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Lunch specials are another great option if you’re hungry during lunchtime. Sushi spots, which can be expensive later in the day, offer some of the best lunch specials in Worcester. Check out the luncheon menu at 7 NaNa Japanese Steakhouse

60 Shrewsbury St, Worcester, MA

(508) 755-8888.

Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30 AM - 1 AM, Sun 12 PM - 10 PM 

Check out GolocalWorcester’s College Guide on Best Asian Cuisine and Best Sushi later this week!

Prev Next

Late-Night Deals

You don’t need to have food delivered to your dorm or eat at a diner to get those late-night deals. If you do some investigating you’ll know where to get sushi rolls and delicious desserts for only $6. The Sole Proprietor Seafood Bar offers this deal after 10pm on weekdays, 11pm on weekends, and 9pm on Sundays.

118 Highland St, Worcester, MA

508- 798- 3474. 

Late Night Special Hours: Thurs 10 PM - 1 AM, Fri-Sat 11 PM - 1 AM, Sun 9 PM - 1 AM 

Prev Next

When in Doubt: Five Guys

Five Guys burger is a classic; if you haven’t been there yet, you’re in for a great experience. Insider tip: if you ask for your order to go, your order of French fries, which are freshly-fried and cut on the premises, is doubled. Now that’s how you get twice the amount of food for less.

525 Lincoln St, Worcester, MA

(508) 853-2000

Open 7 Days: 11 AM - 10 PM 

For more on the best places (and the cheapest) to grab a burger consult GolocalWorcester’s College Guide on Best Burger Joints, coming later in the week!


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