"I might not have a million dollars in the bank, but they make me feel like I do. When I walk in, they say, 'We haven't seen you in a while.' I love that! Isn't it time you became a Landmark? - Cynthia Frisby, Professor of Strategic Communication, University of Missouri-Columbia
Cynthia Frisby shares a two-word phrase to describe her life: time management.
She starts early and spends her day juggling the many roles in her life, from mom and grandma, to University of Missouri (MU) Professor of Strategic Communication, to dance instructor and community activist. She'll often start with the alarm going off at 6:30 a.m., and getting her 6-year-old grandson Jaxon off to school before heading to teach class at MU. Home for a quick lunch, then she'll meet with doctoral students and her research team and work on her latest book project in the afternoon before a quick workout at the gym, followed by teaching dance class at a local studio.
"Life as a professor is not 8 to 5," she says, noting the demands of research, publishing and service responsibilities and expectations.
She says that, while adding to her busy life, exercise, dance, and family help keep her focused, happy, and healthy. Frisby is actively involved with her grandchildren - Jaxon and two-year old Vanessa - and mom to two grown children, daughter Angela and son Marcus. In September 2017, she was promoted to full professor at MU, and today, she is one of eight faculty members of color to hold that title on the MU campus.
In the midst of the responsibilities (and often chaos) of day-to-day life, Frisby is nationally recognized as an authority in her field, well-known for her research and insight on media portrayals of minorities, athletes, women and teens. Currently, she is working on her third book, exploring race, gender, sports, and the media.
Frisby's research and previous publications have investigated how media messages contribute to creating or maintaining stereotypes and biases toward minorities, athletes, women and teens; American fascination with reality television; the effects of idealized images on perceptions of body esteem among African-American women; and more.
Her research may garner national attention, but for Frisby, teaching and research bring intrinsic rewards. She says that, as a professor, she may not always recognize her full reach with students, but when she encounters those who say she has made a difference in their lives, that means something.
In 2007, MU student-athletes named Frisby one of the four "Most Inspiring Professors on the MU campus," and several Mizzou '39 honorees have named Frisby as their mentor. Mizzou '39 honors outstanding seniors for their academic achievements, leadership and service.
"When students say that I have played a huge role in their careers - that is so cool to see how I have impacted their lives," she says. "Teaching is not just a job."
Treating people equally, in professional and everyday interactions
Her academic focus on stereotypes and biases help her take particular note of how others are treated and perceived in her everyday life, from her interactions with students on campus to businesses around Columbia. When she first began banking at Landmark Bank, she says she felt genuinely welcomed.
"There are so many things different about Landmark - the customer service is so nice," Frisby says. "In the past two or three years that I have been banking at Landmark, I have never encountered anyone who made me feel as if I was putting them out."
Even before taking part in the I'm a Landmark campaign, Frisby says she would walk into the Landmark branch on East Broadway and announce to the staff, "I'm a Landmark!"
For her, the campaign connects with the down-to-earth, welcoming feeling she gets every time she visits the bank.
"When I first started noticing the ads, I liked that they were telling a story and that they were diverse," she says.
For Frisby, the people she meets at Landmark match up with the stories. She says she tried three other local banks before finding her home at Landmark, where she trusts in the customer service.
"At Landmark, I know they have my back," she says, confident in the care Landmark staff takes to serve her and others.
Frisby teaches students in her cross-cultural journalism class to analyze media messages and how organizations try to show they are inclusive, often striving for a message of politically correctness that may not match up with reality.
"For Landmark, you see that inclusivity played out when you go to the bank," she says. "It's real - not misrepresented. I might not have a million dollars in the bank, but they make me feel like I do."
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