Missouri State University

Maya Sudduth

Customization led to the perfect major

"A university is only as good as its professors." 

"I had actually changed my major about 150 times," Maya Sudduth said, before coming to Missouri State, where she could design her own curriculum through the interdisciplinary studies program.

Maya designed an individualized major called social innovation and advocacy media, which merges her interests in sociology, marketing and media.

Empowerment and inclusion

Maya Sudduth presenting senior project

She has two big professional goals. "I want to start an online publication for African-American women," Maya said, "a space where their voices are heard and their beauty standards are pushed."

She hopes this work will counterbalance some of the one-dimensional or stereotypical portrayals she sees. "In our community, women do it all," Maya said. "They're the mothers; they pay the bills; they cut their grass; they change their own oil." 

"I believe we need to start people where they are and build them up from there." 

Once her publication is established, Maya hopes to extend her message of empowerment and inclusion. "I want to open an educational wellness center for at-risk youth, particularly girls," she said. "I honestly just don't believe in equating numbers to a student and letting that define who they are. Whether you get an A or a B or an F, that shouldn't limit your potential."   

Maya believes her studies have prepared her for her career, and being able to design her own major at Missouri State was key to this success. 

"It's all really come together," she said, with the help of many faculty, including her three advisors: Tim Knapp of the sociology department, Sherry Cook of marketing and Andrew Cline from media, journalism and film. 

"What sold it was the professors," Maya said. "They were just very helpful and engaging. A university is only as good as its professors."