Marilyn de Guehery Murray
When Marilyn de Guehery Murray, ’08, graduated from Flagler College, she made a conscious decision to buck the system. While many of her peers in the Graphic Design program were gearing up for careers in marketing and advertising that would anchor them in an agency setting or a corporate in-house design department, she set her sights on a career path that would combine her two passions: design and social advocacy.
“I wanted to get a job using my design skills,” she remembers, “but I also wanted to feel like I was contributing to something that was making the world a place I wanted to be. I was worried about working to sell products that I didn’t necessarily believe in, or about working at an agency where I didn’t have control over the kinds of designs I did.”
An Orlando native, Murray was drawn to Flagler for its strong Graphic Design program. “Flagler was the only school I applied to,” she said, laughing. “I was certain that I wanted to go there. And I started out with design because it’s a great program that I’d always had my eye on, but the longer I was in college, the more I was becoming interested in religion classes, so I also started to load up on like sociology and political science. Ultimately I earned a minor in philosophy and religion.” From there, she said, it was a matter of looking for ways to blend her two passions.
That opportunity presented itself in the form of Love146, a New Haven, Connecticut-based organization fighting human trafficking and exploitation. After completing an internship, Marilyn joined the organization full-time and is now the Creative Director, responsible for Love146’s website, brochures, newsletters, emails and videos.
The organization has a compelling story of its own. Love146 was named after its founders took a trip to Southeast Asia in 2002 to look for ways to fight against child sex trafficking. On an undercover trip to a brothel, they witnessed children being sold for sex; a group of young girls was held in a room for “browsing” by predators, and each child had a number pinned to her dress for identification. The eyes of one girl, number 146, haunted the founders and inspired them to focus their efforts on using love to end child trafficking and exploitation.
Marilyn has now been with Love146 for six years, and she feels more committed to the organization and its mission than ever. She’s also become rooted in Connecticut living. She and her husband Tim both enjoy the culture of their adopted home town of New Haven.
“I really like New England’s culture — it’s great,” she said. “New Haven is a city, which means it’s big enough to foster a lot of diversity, and Yale keeps the bar pretty high regarding what kind of dinner conversations happen. But it’s also small enough that you can be a pedestrian almost 90 percent of your life. In that way it reminds me of St. Augustine.”
How does Marilyn keep a positive outlook when working with such a difficult social issue as human trafficking? Counseling, she said, as well as lots of support and introspection. It’s a method that’s worked for her since her days at Flagler, and one she encourages other to explore.
Her advice to Flagler students is to not only pursue the courses that resonate with their passions and interests, but also to surround themselves with a community of support, which may include the college’s counseling services. “The trafficking and exploitation of children is one of the darkest stories imaginable,” she said. “Frankly, I wouldn’t be in an emotional place to work in this field day in and day out without having also utilized the counseling office at Flagler. I graduated not only professionally and academically equipped, but also personally and emotionally equipped, and I believe this is why I have been able to serve the fight against such a dark issue for so long.”
What’s next for Marilyn? More work for Love146, to be sure, as well as a continued exploration of projects and opportunities that help her find meaning in helping others. She holds an uncanny instinct for design, and that applies to designing her life and her priorities, as well, something she encourages everyone to do.
“You are the only one with your particular set of experiences in the world,” she said. “If you are able to learn about yourself and how these experiences can be an asset of resilience, insight and strength to you, you will be uniquely unstoppable at doing what you are meant for.”