Her roots run deep in La Verne, but Maia Kinsinger is far from provincial.
Exquisite cooking, ceaseless splashing, elaborate gardening, fearless dirt biking, detailed designing and inspirational teaching all define Maia Kinsinger, the sunny lady of La Verne.
Kinsinger, who teaches multimedia and graphic design at the University of La Verne, was raised with the smell of pungent orange blossoms in La Verne. As a child, she knew everyone in the area and energetically waved at the cars as she strolled her neighborhood. At 10, she dreamt of cruising down the same streets in a red Porsche. She delicately dropped her pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters into her piggy bank, saving for her dream car. In 1980, her birthday wish came true as she drove out of the dealership in her brand-new dream car, and obtained a customized license plate that read “SUNY L80.”
“I saved my whole life for it,” Kinsinger said. “That’s my baby.”
Kinsinger’s love for the sun and water turned her to swimming. She placed sixth in freestyle swimming during national competitions at age 16. Since then, water has been one of Kinsinger’s best friends. In her teenage years she swam an average of four hours a day on a team that ranked ninth in the Olympic trials in 1972. However, there was little opportunity for Kinsinger to excel in sports through college, since no government or school funding was provided for female athletes.
After her swimming career subsided, Kinsinger turned to the kitchen. “I love to cook for people,” Kinsinger said. “I make it the way I feel that day.” Within 45 minutes, Kinsinger adds a twist to traditional recipes, personalizing pizza, scalloped potatoes and spaghetti.
Kinsinger often escapes from urbanization to her log cabin in Lancaster. With no electricity, running water or phone lines, this dwelling place provides Kinsinger with peace and tranquility.
Along with her cabin, she inherited a taste for adventure and travel from her parents, Linda and Irven Kinsinger, as she trekked across America in the family RV during family vacations.
Kinsinger’s passion for adventure ignited her desire to become a teacher. She enrolled at UCLA and received her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies after graduating from La Verne’s Bonita High School in three years. Unfortunately, Los Angeles was not what Kinsinger imagined, and she found her way back to the smaller city atmosphere at Cal State Northridge to attain her elementary teaching credential in liberal studies.
Kinsinger discovered her passion for teaching after coaching a swimming class during high school, and she taught fifth and sixth grades for 10 years in the Upland Unified School District. Her devotion to school led her back to college.
Kinsinger received her master’s degree in education from the University of Redlands.
Her fascination with design brought countless opportunities to her doorstep. Kinsinger took a summer job offer at the Sequoia Athletic Club as a graphic designer. Her diligence and creativity led her to become the CEO’s assistant. This position allowed her to excel in electronics and graphic design.
Kinsinger’s passion for teaching brought her back to the classroom at Cal Poly Pomona in 1998, and to the University of La Verne in 2001.
University of La Verne alumna Alexis Carrillo recalls Kinsinger as a teacher who taught for the students out of love, not for the money.
“She’s a little bit goofy and has the most random terms, like ‘jiggly jag’ and ‘persnickety,’ “ Carrillo said.
As a guru in graphic design and page layout, Kinsinger organized and founded the Multimedia Degree Program at ULV. Kinsinger’s love for teaching and the students’ intelligence and willingness to learn made her teaching position at ULV the job of her dreams.
“Life is what you make of it; I like to keep it moving,” Kinsinger said.
Kinsinger has the talent to transform into a tough biker. Occasionally, the slender blond cruises by dressed in leather on her Honda Ascot 500 red street bike. However, nothing seems to provide a bigger thrill for Kinsinger than riding her Honda XR2002R four-stroke engine dirt bike in the Lancaster desert.
Despite her passion for riding, Kinsinger sticks to a strict environmental policy. She stays on roads, picks up trash and marvels at indigenous plants as she rides through the climate zones on a mountain trail.
The transition of topographical climate zones on the desert mountain biking routes inspired Kinsinger to invest in a garden of her own. During the last 20 years, Kinsinger has transformed her front yard into a botanical garden of cactus, sweet peas, golden poppies, roses and native California plants that are neatly dispersed on the soil that once occupied her front lawn. When the city of La Verne gave homeowners an incentive to tear out their front lawns and plant something else, Kinsinger seized the opportunity to try something new.
“One of the things I admire most about Maia is that she takes seriously what she has to do in life,” said Melinda Beer, Kinsinger’s best friend since childhood. “She follows through and does a good job.”
“She dedicates herself to life,” said Gregg Nevills, a long-time friend and former student. “She’s a genuine person; you’re getting the real deal. In today’s age, that’s extremely hard to find – she’s basically one of a kind.”