Dr. Daria Sevastianova, Economics
Daria Sevastianova’s passion is contagious. It’s evident in the associate professor’s engaging teaching style, even with a challenging discipline like economics. She knows it’s easy to lose students’ interest—that’s why she keeps her students inspired and creative by being authentic and sharing her love for what she does—something that shows both in the classroom and out.
“If students sense a lack of enthusiasm from their instructor, they tune out immediately,” she says. “But if they see how much I enjoy sharing what economics can teach us all about the world—if I’m excited to go over the theories and examples—then at least I can keep everyone awake and listening. I don’t make a point to be loud and enthusiastic, but it’s how my passion for economics shows, whether I realize it or not, and the students pick up on that.”
Sevastianova finds joy in creative and challenging projects, which she lauds as the hallmarks of an academic career, and her approach to it. “I have my dream job at USI. The University has allowed me to do exactly what I love.”
We all can be role models in many ways: as a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife or a friend. As an educator, I think it’s important to find your passion and work hard to develop and share it with others.
Coming out of graduate school 11 years ago, her focus was on mastering what she calls the three pillars of an academic career: research, teaching and service. Since earning tenure, however, she’s been able to add a new focus, one that inspires her—travel. Sevastianova is a former international student herself, and has lived in different parts of Europe and the United States. She wanted to share that love of exploration with USI’s students and, through University’s Center for International Programs, has built a faculty led summer program at USI’s partner university in Osnabrück, Germany.
“I enjoy being around students, and getting to know them,” she says, noting the program is now in its seventh year. “Traveling to Europe together certainly affords that opportunity. My favorite part of the day is when someone drops by my office, sometimes just to chat, be it about economics, or our study abroad experiences, or anything else. It’s hard to build a personal relationship with students in the classroom, so the time spent outside the classroom is valuable, especially on trips.”
She’s influencing students in other ways too. She recently took a group of girls to the Women in Economics Symposium at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Missouri. The first-time event was successful, and she’s now working with the Fed on a second round. She also brought Old National Bank Regional CEO Sarah Miller to campus to talk to students about careers and job opportunities with the bank.
“It’s important to find your passion and work hard to develop and share it with others,” she says. “With me and my students, I think the inspiration and gratitude flow both ways.”