Professor Spotlight: Maria Lundberg


Photo by: Keyla Shepard

FMU mass communication professor Maria Lundberg poses on the set of the broadcast studio where she teaches many of her students on how to appear professionally on news networks.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many people are aware of meaning behind the pink ribbon. The amount of courage, support and strength are the most important parts of overcoming the illness. One FMU professor shows all of these attributes and much more. Maria Lundberg is an associate professor of mass communication and is a breast cancer survivor.

In December 2014, Lundberg received news that put a temporary halt on her career. During a routine mammogram the doctor discovered that Lundberg had a lump in her breast. After meeting with an oncologist she had a mastectomy and later underwent two reconstructive surgeries.

While this journey was difficult, what really helped her overcome her illness was the incredible amount of support that she received from her family, friends, acquaintances, co- workers, and other breast cancer survivors. Lundberg received cards from people around the world who were praying for her, and she soon came to a realization.

“If all of these people were thinking good thoughts for me and cheering me on, it really keeps you focused on the positive,” Lundberg said.

It was then that she decided to use her gift of story telling to help others who were going to through the same illness as her. Lundberg decided to write a series of articles for the Florence Morning News about her experience. She then produced two video reports for North Carolina public television as well. While it felt uncomfortable sharing something so personal, Lundberg felt that if she could help someone who was going through the same thing then it was worth it.

Lundberg was born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., but she has lived all over the country. After spending one year at University of California Los Angeles, she transferred to the University of Connecticut (UConn) where she majored in French and education.

While at UConn, Lundberg spent her junior year studying French in Rouen, France. While there, she was able to see how other parts of the world work, how people looked at things differently and was immersed in a completely different culture. After graduating from college, Lundberg pursued a career as a French teacher.

While living in Norman, Okla., her husband worked in marketing and advertising. This gave Lundberg a first- hand look at what went on behind the scenes of a television station. As time went on, she became more fascinated by the field, and, in her early 30s, she decided to go back to college to earn her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Oklahoma.

After obtaining her master’s degree, Lundberg began working as an associate producer in Oklahoma City and later co- anchored the 5:00 p.m. news broadcast in Fort Smith, Ark. In 1988, her family moved to Raleigh, N.C., where Lundberg began working for North Carolina Public Broadcasting Station (PBS). This move transitioned Lundberg from commercial to public TV, which she loved. Public television gave Lundberg more time to cover stories and the opportunity to cover documentaries.

Lundberg has won many awards in journalism, but it was her work producing “Through Children’s Eyes” that she’s most proud of. The documentary looked at the impact of watching TV through children’s eyes. It focused on both the positive and the negative sides, including providing children with developmental tools and how watching excessive amounts of TV can stunt a child’s mental growth. The documentary gave parents information about things that they should be aware of when letting their children watch TV.

While she still continues to do freelance work for North Carolina PBS, she is staying focused on helping her students at FMU succeed in their studies. She does enjoy being able to keep her foot in the door of broadcast and likes that she’s able to give her students the most up-to-date information about what is going on in the communication world. So, for Lundberg, teaching while occasionally freelancing is the perfect mix of the two worlds she loves.