Education Award | Maria Stover
Maria Stover is a professor and chair of the Department of Mass Media at Washburn University. A graduate of Southern Illinois University with a Ph.D. in Mass Media and Media Arts, Stover joined the department in 2003. She has been instrumental in developing departmental curriculum and, most recently, adding a new minor in Applied Media Studies. During her first year as a chair of the department in 2017, Stover secured funding to upgrade the film editing lab as well as digitize the equipment checkout system and computer lab access. Under her leadership, the department hosted the inaugural WIFI Film Festival, which brought a renowned Hollywood film editor to Topeka and presented a premier selection of over 70 documentary and short films. Her vision is to make WIFI an annual film festival where audiences can enjoy thought-provoking content for free.
Stover has over 20 publications in different international journals and encyclopedias, 36 presentations at national and international conferences, and in 2014 she published a book entitled Media and women in politics: Perspectives from nations in transition. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the National Association of Television Program Executives, and the American Press Institute. In her spare time, she is a dedicated gardener and a cookie manager for the Girl Scouts.
Q&A with TK Business
TK: Who has had a tremendous impact on you? How did this person impact your life?
MARIA: My grandmother has always been one of the most important people in my life. She was petite in stature, but so grand at heart and wisdom. She was one of the first women dentists in Bulgaria in the 1950s. She worked as a dentist at a military hospital, which was mainly an all-male environment at the time. She was the first influential role model who showed me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. She was always very supportive of all my endeavors, including my mistakes, and taught me that mistakes are lessons of wisdom.
Throughout the years, however, I’ve had a number of wonderful women as role models and I am so thankful for that. Their influence on me underscores the importance of both formal and informal mentoring for young girls and women, which is something I am very passionate about.
TK: What inspires you?
MARIA: Although I find many sources of inspiration in my life, one of the biggest sources is nature. I love the outdoors and find the organic shapes of nature – the clouds, flowers and rocks - to be most beautiful and pleasing. I am the type of person who could stare at a waterfall, rock formation or a sunset for hours. It is in these moments that I feel truly inspired, motivated and energized. I often come up with my best ideas while I am outdoors.
TK: What drives your commitment to education?
MARIA: To use an analogy from nature, I perceive this as a process resembling the water cycle. By showing commitment to my profession as a teacher, I hope to motivate and inspire my students. Inspired students not only learn the subject matter better, but they also tend to become lifelong learners. There is a strong correlation between student achievement and committed teachers. The successes of my students, in turn, fuel my passion and commitment to my profession. It’s a continuous and self-reinforcing cycle that sustains me as an educator.
TK: What advice do you have for others?
MARIA: Find ways to be present. In this fast-paced, modern environment, we sometimes find it challenging to fully connect with what we experience or see. There are always so many distractions, tasks or responsibilities around us that we often forget to stop and watch life unfold around us. Learn to savor the moment and develop a habit of daily gratitude.
TK: What is your theme song?
MARIA: My theme song would be Imagine by John Lennon. What would this world be without dreamers?