You know when you meet someone and you know that they're going to change you're life? That's how I felt when I met Dr. Beth Stapleton, the chair of the Modern Language Department, and one of my favorite humans in the world.
Being given the task to write about Dr. Stapleton is a gift, but an intimidating one. I know handfuls of alumni, current students, and staff members that love and respect Dr. Stapleton as much as I do, if not more. This woman is a world shaker and a life changer and knowing her is not something to be passive about.
So today I'm going to introduce you all to Dr. Stapleton, because the world deserves to know her.
Dr. Stapleton is from Alamo, GA. She first called Mississippi College her home when she came to pursue her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Her first visit to MC was at the end of her "College Tour" her senior year of high school. MC was her last school to visit and she says, "As cliché as it sounds, when you know, you know."
So as a college freshman, she chose MC. After graduation she acquired her Masters in Spanish Literature and her PhD in Spanish Linguistics, and MC chose her. Dr. Stapleton returned to MC in 2002 to teach for the Modern Language Department. Five years later, she took position as Department Chair.
When I walked into her office last week, she was listening to flamenco music to inspire her as she planned for the next day's classes. She doesn't half-do anything because she loves all that she does. She is a firm believer that we should embrace our everyday and do things that we love.
Dr. Stapleton has a deep love for travel, people, and words. It doesn’t take much time around her to learn that those three things play important roles in her life.
Dr. Stapleton went to Spain for the first time after her Junior year of college. That trip was her first time to leave the States and definitely not her last. Since her first visit, she’s returned to Spain over 25 times and has visited close to 20 different countries. When she first went to Spain, it changed her life in ways she didn’t expect. She returned home with a new outlook on how life should be lived and a desire to see more of the world. Today, she has a long and impressive list of the things she's experienced in her travels. She talks about Spain as her second home and with a passion that could make anyone want to visit.
She told me that it was her time in Spain that taught her a lot about how important relationships are. The people she met in Spain loved her well and loved her fully, inspiring her to do the same. Upon returning from her first trip to Spain, she sold a lot of her stuff because she realized that relationships are more important than anything and everything we could own. One conversation with Dr. Stapleton will show you that she prioritizes loving people well.
A big part of loving people is the way that we speak to them. As one who has studied words, Dr. Stapleton is passionate about how we speak to others. She has always been a lover of words, but she isn't a reader or a writer. She loves the effect and power that words possess, which is why she pursued (and earned) her PhD in Spanish Linguistics. She describes how words are as sweet as honey, but they can also be as bitter as poison. How we speak to others can make or break someone's day, which is why Dr. Stapleton is ardent about speaking life into people. We don't have time to be anything but kind.
Her decision to teach at MC has changed the lives of more students than we have time to count (myself included). Getting to know Dr. Stapleton has been one of the sweetest experiences MC has offered me. Her smile is bright and authentic and contagious. Dr. Stapleton believes that we should live life to the fullest and she inspires others to do the same. She is a creature of joy and a friend of many. I have never left an interaction with her feeling anything other than valued and loved. I'm not kidding folks, knowing Dr. Stapleton will change your life.