Bringing the News to Life

When she was in middle school, Maya Dawson spent hours writing short stories and poetry, developing her own voice as an author. Once she got to high school, Dawson thought those skills would translate rather well to a journalism class she was interested in taking.

While Dawson quickly learned that her journalistic writing voice would differ from her poetic style, she also found a passion for bringing the news to life.

“I kind of thought that the styles wouldn’t be all that different – and that was not the case,” Dawson said. “I found, though, that I really enjoyed sitting down and telling real stories that had concrete impacts on my community. It was powerful, and I loved that feeling. I also enjoyed connecting with people.”

Dawson immediately looked for ways to get involved at Conifer Senior High School, in Conifer, Colorado. She soon became the editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, a position she held for three years. She wrote and edited stories, posted the stories online, managed the website, and kept an eye on deadlines. She even wrote curriculum.

Those experiences have set Dawson up well as she pursues a journalism degree at the University of Missouri.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunities I had in high school, and I really think those experiences will help me be successful at Mizzou,” Dawson said. “Along with the school newspaper, I was mentored by a Denver Post reporter and interned with a handful of community newspapers. I love challenging myself, putting myself out there and building my skills. The School of Journalism at Mizzou is going to offer me the chance to do all of that.”

While Dawson grew up in Colorado, she knew of Mizzou’s reputation as a great school for students interested in journalism. Knowing she would have to pay out-of-state tuition, Dawson tried to find scholarship opportunities that would lessen the financial load. That’s when she got connected with the Stamps scholarship.

Mizzou has partnered with the Stamps Scholars Program since 2016 on a premier scholarship for incoming Tigers. Scholars receive a full four-year scholarship, covering up to the total estimated cost of attendance, plus an additional $16,000 enrichment fund for them to use throughout their time at MU.

“The stars aligned for me with this award,” Dawson said. “The Stamps scholarship is life-changing, and I’m so excited to be able to be at Mizzou this fall.

“It’s a huge opportunity. I got the call about receiving the scholarship while I was at school, and it was fun to be able to celebrate with all my teachers who had supported me. It was an awesome moment.”

Stamps Scholars must be enrolled in the Honors College for all four years, working toward the completion of the Honors certificate. Scholars have a dedicated mentor, contact with campus leadership, alumni networking opportunities and funding for study abroad, too.

Dawson is one of eight Stamps Scholars who will be at Mizzou this fall.

“I’m excited to be in an environment with people who are passionate about what they do,” Dawson said. “I have so much to learn, and I’m in the perfect spot to grow as a student and as a person.

“I also love the cohort aspect of the Stamps scholarship. I’m going to meet so many people who are on the journalism track, which is great, but the Stamps Scholars, we all have different interests. I enjoy learning more about people’s passions, so it’s going to be fun getting to know each other in meaningful ways.”

Dawson will have an opportunity to conduct research through the Stamps scholarship as well. This isn’t the first time she has been part of a research project; she took an AP research course in high school.

“Being at MU is going to be awesome for a lot of reasons, including the chance to do research,” Dawson said. “I’m excited to have this research placement at Mizzou where I will be able to learn from so many experts. It’s so cool and empowering. It’s going to be great to see what college research can look like through a journalistic lens.”