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Marissa in front of cherry blossoms wearing a white blouse


My name is Marissa Nissley and I am a senior in Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business! I am majoring in Management and Accounting with a minor in Disability Studies. I love reading, cycling, walking, meeting pups, and, of course, podcasting! 

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My Story

I always loved sharing stories as a child, especially through Littlest Pet Shop YouTube videos and plays with size 72 font scripts. I spent my days in elementary school imagining myself as a superhero or a vampire (because a lack of media representation will make you identify with bloodsucking monsters who have pale skin), creating a school newspaper on the playground, and writing teen dramas starring three-inch plastic dogs. But here’s the catch:


I hated talking about myself.


I hated hearing my voice in recordings. Icebreakers such as “Two Truths and a Lie” made me cringe. Even though I was extremely outgoing and extroverted, I never wanted to draw too much attention towards my interests, accomplishments, and especially my blindness. 


I thought my white hair, pale skin, and wiggly eyes were the elephant in the room. I figured that if I earned straight A’s, took advanced classes, and impressed my teachers, people would ignore my albinism. Asking for help or talking about my visual impairment frequently evoked feelings of shame, embarrassment, and anxiety. 


But as I became older, gained confidence, and learned more about disability activism, I realized that my blindness is a characteristic and part of who I am. Embracing the social model of disability, or quite simply the notion that “I am not the problem,” helped me become a significantly happier and more socially-conscious person. 


I started Legally Blonde & Blind because I wanted to shout from the rooftops how much adopting a positive philosophy towards blindness can change one’s life. I am literally bursting at the seams with pride for the beauty, resilience, and accomplishments of the albinism community. Podcasting has allowed me to meet amazing friends and mentors, gain the language to describe my experiences, and raise awareness for the daily challenges disabled people face.


After spending my entire life writing and listening to other people’s stories, I finally felt ready to share my own. And that’s why I launched Legally Blonde & Blind in November 2020.  

Smalls is an incredible female Yellow Labrador from the Guide Dog Foundation. Born on November 28th, 2020, she is a member of the Sully and Sully litter. We graduated from training in January and have been conquering Georgetown's campus ever since! She especially loves finding doors, weaving through crowds, navigating train platforms, and riding escalators. When "off-duty," she enjoys naping, playing fetch, and zooming through Dahlgren quad. She is also very proud to share that she can fit three extra-large Kong toys in her mouth and finish her dinner in 40 seconds!

Smalls. a female yellow labrador wearing a tan harness, standing in front of fancy carpeted steps

Meet Smalls!

"I realized I needed to love the blind girl who gets lost as much as the blind girl who is independent, who has her act together...if I never put myself out there, put myself in positions where I might feel lost or helpless, I would've never gained the skills I have today."

Fun Facts!

  1. I started Legally Blonde & Blind before I ever watched the movie Legally Blonde (thank goodness I ended up loving Elle Woods!).

  2. I am a member of the Jack Crew where I walk and care for Georgetown's bulldog mascot!

  3. I taught Smalls to target my favorite places in Georgetown, such as "SoulCycle" and "coffee" for Bitty & Beau's.

  4. I love making spreadsheets! I have a 'Virtual Bookshelf’ where I track my reading, a “DC Gluten Free” list of celiac-friendly restaurant options, and a “Gtown Pups” directory of all the dogs I have met.

  5. During the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, I cured my boredom by building LEGOs and binging Avatar the Last Airbender on Netflix.

  6. My parents used to call Cauliflower “Broccoli with Albinism.” 

  7. In addition to being legally blind, I have a rather poor sense of smell. 

  8. My perfect Saturday would start with a SoulCycle class or a long walk and end with reading while sipping Bigelow’s Sweet Dreams tea. 

  9. I was famous for wearing a silver sequin page boy in elementary school. 

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