Alive with Possibilities

Susie Marshall, Ph.D.

Susie Marshall, Ph.D., was a high school student in Redlands, California, when she discovered a lifelong love for speech and debate. “The high school had a team, and I wasn’t used to that in my home country,” said Marshall, who was born in Austria. “I was curious about it. I wanted to practice, and it was great fun.”

Marshall would later earn a Ph.D. in Literature and teach at Lake Erie College, near Cleveland, Ohio. When she became a tenured faculty member, “I felt like that was the pinnacle of what I could achieve in the academic area,” she said.

Soon after, Marshall and her husband, Bret, became parents to daughter, Ella. “We were living in Cleveland, and Bret is from California,” Marshall said. “We had always said if the opportunity presented itself, we would move back to where it was warm. Bret’s job was portable. Ella was little. I wanted to change jobs. So we decided to move and look for other opportunities.”

Those opportunities came with a move to South Florida and Marshall’s arrival at Nova Southeastern University in fall 2003. Starting in academic affairs, she rose to the position of associate dean and later split her time with development.

Today, she is a senior director of development for NSU University School and a strong supporter of the school. “I always wanted to work for a unit that was really alive with possibilities. NSU University School is a place like that. I was interested in the institution as a living and breathing being. That’s what guided my switch into development, because that is caring for the institution—for its legacy and what will happen moving forward.”

In addition to her professional role, Marshall also is a volunteer at NSU University School, where daughter Ella is a sophomore and shares her mother’s love of speech and debate. Susie Marshall also works with veterans through Mission United of the United Way of Broward County, which focuses on reducing veteran homelessness in Fort Lauderdale and helping military veterans.

Through a legacy gift, Bret and Susie Marshall helped fund the creation of an endowed speech and debate coaching position at NSU University School.

“Building a team and nourishing team members is a full-time function,” Marshall said. “It is the anchor of the program. The coach is an emotional rock. Since I used to compete, I know what it is like to receive that. It meant a lot to me that I had the chance to compete with a team in high school. For me, it is a lifelong interest and a belief in the formative nature of speech and debate–and how important that is.”