Columbia, Mo. (May 15, 2003) — For 335 students at the Missouri School of Journalism, May means not only the end of another busy school year but the end of their time at MU and the beginning of a whole new chapter in their lives. On Saturday, May 17, the Hearnes Center Field House will be a sea of black caps and gowns and teary-eyed parents and the air will buzz with a whole spectrum of emotions from relief and excitement to nostalgia and apprehension.
Of the 335 students graduating this May, 278 are receiving their Bachelor of Journalism degrees and an impressive 40 percent are graduating with Latin honors, a mark of the School’s high academic standards and motivated student body. Roughly 32 percent of BJ degrees at Missouri go to advertising students, another 24 percent go to students in the magazine track, 20 percent go to news-editorial students, 15 percent to broadcast and about 10 percent to budding photojournalists. Of the remaining 57 students, 48 received a master’s degree; 9 a doctoral degree.
Some discovered a passion for journalism after their first year or two at MU but many came here with the express goal of graduating from one of the most highly respected journalism schools in the country. Patrick Healy is one such student. He left his hometown of Detroit to come to Missouri four years ago and in a few days will leave Missouri behind for a summer internship on the Metro desk of The New York Times. He gives some of the credit in being selected for the internship to the constant opportunities he was given at Missouri to practice his craft. Particularly invaluable, he says, were the two semesters he spent reporting for the Columbia Missourian, where he turned his days into clips and established lasting relationships with editors.
“The Missourian is this wide open field and you get to fill it with copy,” he said.
Christina Hammond also reported for the Missourian, but took a magazine design class in her final semester and decided she had found her true calling. This summer she will work as a design intern at The (Colorado Springs) Gazette.
“Everybody wants to be a writer when they come here,” she says. “But there are so many opportunities out there in design and copy editing.”
Taking into account the ailing economy, Hammond is among many graduating students who have accepted internships in the hope that they will turn into jobs at the end of the summer.
Brian Connolly is one of 45 students receiving his Master of Arts in journalism this May. He’s looking forward to beginning a copy editing internship sponsored by the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund at his hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News. Like Hammond, he decided to give copy editing a try after taking classes in several other fields including newspaper reporting, magazine writing and broadcasting. He was impressed by the flexibility of the master’s program.
“I could create my own track that combined all the things I was interested in,” he said.
Cory Matteson, a graduating senior, says he’s been too busy working on the sports desk of the Missourian to do a thorough job search but that he hopes to pursue a career in sports reporting. He estimates he has written more than 200 sports stories during his four semesters in the newsroom.
“I think I’ve found my voice a little bit,” he said with a straight face.
A high point for Matteson was having the opportunity to travel to five states he had never visited to cover last year’s football season.
Several students who spent their final semesters participating in the Washington Program have been asked to stay on at the organizations where they completed their professional projects. International master’s student, Chih-Shuan Chang will continue to work for the Voice of America’s Chinese division as a contract reporter, translator and producer. She describes graduating from the Journalism School as a dream come true but not one that came easily.
“I think those tough challenges and what I learned all make me a better journalist,” she says.
Journalism School alumnus Greg Wagner will give the commencement speech at the graduation ceremony on Saturday. Wagner is group creative director and vice president of Chemistri, the multi-national advertising agency formerly known as D’Arcy. In the course of his 30-year career in advertising, he was worked on accounts for Budweiser, the St. Louis Cardinals, Crest, Pontiac and Cadillac among many others. Wagner says he is still passionate about the communications business and looks forward to sharing what he has learned with a new generation of Missouri graduates.
Updated: April 28, 2020