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The Path Taken: Amanda Marfisi

September 29, 2010

A misunderstanding about what club she was joining in high school changed the direction of Amanda Marfisi’s life and led her to the presidency of Circle K International (CKI), the largest collegiate community service organization in the world.

The ASU graduate student was named international president of CKI, the collegiate branch of Kiwanis International, during the 2010 CKI convention in St. Louis, Mo.  Kiwanis programs have more than 580,000 members, of which CKI has more than 13,000 members on more than 450 university and college campuses in 17 nations.  Like its parent organization, CKI is committed to the tenants of leadership, service and fellowship.

The musically inclined Marfisi enjoys singing and playing the French horn, and might have followed that path instead, but she confused a glee club meeting with a Key Club meeting in high school.

“Circle K has a high school branch called Key Club,” she said. “I got involved in Key Club, but I initially thought it was a singing group. I showed up and found out it was for community service. There were a couple of us who were really gung ho and our adviser was really passionate, so we ended up starting the club. I didn’t really know it had other branches, either.”

After graduating, Marfisi started her college career at Elizabethtown College near Harrisburg, Pa., and that is where she moved from Key Club to CKI.

“My friend took me to a Circle K meeting one night after dinner, and I realized the two were connected,” she said. “I said, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll definitely join this,’ and it kind of went from there.”

When she arrived at ASU in 2009 to pursue a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology, Marfisi discovered that ASU did not have a Circle K club, so she set out to start one. She worked with Dr. Mark Crouch, an ASU computer science professor, and some friends, including Marianne Glutz, who is now the president of the ASU Circle K club, to get the ball rolling.

“We’ve done a lot of projects,” Marfisi said. “Something we do on a regular basis is going to Fort Concho Elementary School and reading to the students on Mondays. We worked with Habitat for Humanity to put on their big fundraiser last year. We also love to travel to other schools around Texas, like last year, we attended a chili cook-off at the University of Texas.”

Circle K also does a lot of projects in conjunction with Key Clubs and Kiwanis.

“Whatever they are doing, we kind of tag along,” Marfisi said. “They do the Little Olympics, a local elementary school track meet, and as we progress, we do a lot of our own projects as well.”

While attending Circle K’s international convention last year in Birmingham, Ala., Marfisi learned the organization needed a sub-regional representative, which is an international board post focused on one area of the country. 

In that capacity, Marfisi oversaw clubs in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and western Tennessee before being named to her current post as president. Many of her presidential duties occur behind the scenes, like finding resources, daily membership correspondence, and supervising CKI board members and various committees. She also works with a paid staff at Kiwanis International headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind., as a liaison to Circle K.

The aggregation of all she has to do is daunting for Marfisi, but she gets it done.

“I go through probably 400 e-mails a week,” Marfisi said, “and spend six to eight hours a day on Circle K. I make sure there is time for studying, but it’s busy this fall because I have an internship, classes, jobs with ASU Career Development and Olive Garden, and occasionally a social life. I probably spend 18 hours a week studying and reading.”

“Sleep is kind of the first thing that went out the window,” she added. “I thought I probably wouldn’t sleep much this year, but sleep can come after this wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the world.”