Carla Stover is one of the co-founders of the Honors Club. She graduated from UMF in 1996 and is currently teaching at the University of South Florida.
Why did you choose to go to UMF?
I chose to go to UMF for several reasons. I wanted a smaller campus with a more personalized experience than the UM campus in Orono offered. I was accepted to several excellent liberal arts colleges like Bates, but the cost of attending and the amount of debt I would have upon finishing was just too high. I felt like UMF would offer me the liberal arts education I was seeking. The Honors program definitely impacted my decision to attend as well. I knew I would be challenged in the program.
What honors courses did you find memorable?
There were several Honors classes that I took that really were important to my college career. The first was a Utopias course taught by Marilyn Shea. We spent the semester traveling to the Shaker Village and doing research there. It was my first experience going into the field and conducting research. The course culminated in a paper we wrote about the area we chose to study. The course was enjoyable because it was small and Dr. Shea really got to know each of us. We were a close knit group of students. We traveled by van to the Shaker village so spent a good amount of time getting to know each other. We each presented our research topic related to the Shaker society as both a written paper, but also an oral presentation in class. We all learned from each other. The hands-on nature of the course really made it interesting.
The second course I wanted to highlight was a Western Thought course taught by Doug Rawlings. He was probably my favorite professor at UMF. He became director of the honors program during my time at UMF and helped us start the Honors club. He really challenged me to be a thinker and a much stronger writer. I had been a top student at my high school. I expected to excel in college too. When I got my first paper back and had a low B I was surprised, but that was a great experience for me. He pushed me to go deeper and become better. He also introduced me to the writing of Howard Zinn. Reading “A People’s History of the United States” was life-changing for me intellectually. I never expected to have my understanding of history so completely shaken. That course lit a fire in me to always read more and understand the sources of my information and not take information I’m given to be true.
How did you decide to start the Honors Club?
My recollection is that there were a few of us in the Honors program who wanted to start a club so that we could have social activities and field trips as a group. We approached the director and asked about doing it. He was very supportive. I don’t remember it being difficult to start the club at all. We had meetings to determine what activities we wanted to do for the year. These included taking trips, bringing speakers and community service projects. It was rewarding because we were empowered to create something that was meaningful to us. I am most proud of our efforts to bring Howard Zinn to speak at the UMF campus. It was such a thrill to have him come to UMF. We had dinner with him and got to talk with him about his work. He then gave a public talk on campus. We also took trips to Portland and Montreal as a group.
What did you write your thesis on?
The Honors Thesis project taught me many things. It was an important culmination in my undergraduate studies. I wrote my thesis on creative stimulation in the classroom and whether it impacted student behavior. I chose it because I was interested in children and art and how arts and creativity could help struggling students. I learned how to design a research project from start to finish, how to reach out to community organization (like schools) to partner in research, and how to write up an experimental study. This was hugely valuable to me as I was interested in going to graduate school for psychology.
Where did you attain your doctorate degree?
I attended the California School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco.
What have you been up to now?
I completed my graduate studies and then did a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine Child Study Center. I was on the faculty there for 10 years full-time and continue to have an adjunct faculty appointment there. Two years ago I decided to move south to be near my parents and to leave the cold New England winters behind. I am now on the faculty of the University of South Florida. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses and do research. I have several grants from the National Institute of Health to develop interventions for families impacted by violence and substance abuse and study their efficacy. I’m also a master trainer in several evidence based trauma treatments for children. I travel around the country teaching clinicians how to implement these treatments with their clients. I was just invited to give a plenary address in November in Oslo, Norway at their Scandinavian Domestic Violence conference. This will be my first international presentation and I’m very excited about the opportunity. I’m married to another UMF Honor Program Alumni, Wes Stover. He is a high school theater and performing arts teacher. We have 2 beautiful daughters aged 11 and 7. I am an avid exercise, running and obstacle race enthusiast. I also love going to the beach whenever I can.
If you could give a piece of advice to a senior about to graduate, what would it be?
My advice to any senior about the graduate is to enjoy these last months at UMF. There is no other time like it in your life. Don’t feel you have to know right now exactly what you are going to do with your future. Sometimes it takes some time after graduating to know exactly what career or path you are going to follow. Each of us has our own journey. Enjoy yours!