Faculty Senate Community Involvement Award

Mariana MitovaIn addition to her impactful teaching as a lecturer in the apparel merchandising and product development program, Dr. Mariana Mitova has made a lasting mark on the local community through her selfless work with the RallyCap Sports chapter at BGSU.

Under her guidance, the local chapter of this sports organization for children and young adults with disabilities has thrived, allowed dozens of families to share in the joy of sports in an environment that fosters social integration and self-confidence for individuals with special needs.

As a result of her dedication, Mitova was honored with the 2017 Faculty Senate Community Involvement Award. The award recognizes a faculty member for outstanding contributions to the community, as well as the importance of faculty service and the contribution of community involvement to the education and image of Bowling Green State University. It includes a $1,000 cash award.

“It is obvious that Mariana has put her all into co-developing, coordinating, staffing and running RallyCap at BGSU,” said Dr. Mary Murray, associate dean for the College of Education and Human Development: “It meets a need in the community and would not be in existence without the collaboration and strong relationships she cultivated with the community.”

Kimberly Christensen, coordinator of the inclusive early childhood education program, wrote that she could think of no one worthier of the award than Mitova: “Her commitment and personal spirit of caring exemplify the type of individual this award honors.”

Like Christensen, Mitova is the mother of a son with disabilities, and her interest in RallyCap Sports grew out of her passion to provide every opportunity for her son to have equal access to activities of his choice.

Mitova has been key in identifying volunteers to help support RallyCap from the BGSU community, including athletes, coaches, faculty, certified intervention specialists and students from the Bowling Green Student Council of Exceptional Children (BGSCEC), among many others. To date, more than 700 students from various disciplines have volunteered to help the BGSU chapter.

Many have testified that the organization has as much of a profound, positive impact on them as it did the program participants, with some even describing it as “life-changing.”

This goes to the heart of the award’s mission to infuse community involvement and/or public service into the classroom in a way that enhances the education of BGSU students at the graduate or undergraduate level. 

The families who participate in RallyCap sports also can’t say enough good things about how the program has helped their children.

“My boys needed to get active,” said a parent of twins with exceptionalities. “They were not able to get on any team with their peers. RallyCap was the answer. They love going and don't miss a session. The BGSU student volunteers have been role models to my boys. They talk about them all the time — on and off season."