As an Introduction to Merchandising instructor, Marissa Zorola is one of the first College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism faculty members that students meet at the outset of the program.

She never fails to make a great impression.

In her role as principal lecturer, Zorola “creates a welcoming and enthusiastic environment so students feel supported and befriended,” her colleagues say. As the Department of Merchandising's internship coordinator, she works to support and collaborate with seniors, helping them in their internship search by reviewing their resumes, providing insight on interviewing skills, and identifying and building relationships with potential employers. And, her peers note, she “takes her role as an instructor, guide and mentor to heart and with the utmost dedication.”

Those are just a few of the reasons that Zorola was named UNT's Brand Ambassador of the Month for April, an award presented to faculty and staff who demonstrate four or more of UNT's primary brand attributes — they're Mean Green community members who are creative, imaginative, artistic, original, dedicated, persevering, industrious, resilient, supportive, friendly, compassionate and inclusive.

“You bring the joy of teaching to everybody around campus,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said as he presented Zorola with the award in her Disney-adorned office. 

“Walt Disney is the greatest storyteller that ever existed,” says Zorola who believes in the same values Disney held dear when he launched his company: find a passion, build a dream around it, and work hard to achieve it. “The Disney Company is very much about the consumer experience.”

Zorola has channeled that admiration into growing the college's relationship with Disney as a way to provide more real-world, consumer-based opportunities to students. It's that kind of vision and unwavering dedication that makes her such an asset to UNT, says College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism Dean Jana Hawley. 

“She always ranks as one of the highest teaching scores we get on SPOT evaluations — the students absolutely love her,” Hawley says. “She's just remarkable in every way.”

As a merchandising undergraduate at UNT, Zorola initially thought she would go into product development — but then, as a grad student, she was asked to instruct a lab class. She tells her students that's when she discovered there was something she was more passionate about than fashion: teaching.

“I really love what I do,” Zorola says. “As a lecturer, my focus is on teaching, and to be recognized for that — it means a lot to me.”