‘Letters Home’ Offers a Bridge of Support Between Alumni and Students

Juana Summers, BJ '09
Juana Summers, BJ ’09, is the first contributor to the “Letters Home” initiative on the ONA Mizzou website.

Columbia, Mo. (April 5, 2012) — “Letters Home,” an initiative to obtain advice from alumni for current Missouri School of Journalism students, recently made its debut on the website of Online News Association Mizzou.

Juana Summers, BJ ’09, who works as a national political reporter for POLITICO, wrote the first letter. In the Feb. 27 post she encourages students to not be afraid of failure, “as long as you’re learning something in the process.”

“Letters Home” is updated every Monday, and graduates dating back to the 1970s have committed to contribute to the site.

Samantha Liss, BJ ’10, realized the potential for the project while in one of her convergence journalism courses while professors Karen Mitchell, Lynda Kraxberger and Victoria Lim shared anecdotes from pivotal moments in their careers.

“These small tidbits stuck with me because they offered good advice for aspiring journalists,” Liss said.

Liss noted that she was somewhat worried at first that people would think the idea was “corny” but is pleased with how successful the initiative has become.

Amy Simons, assistant professor and the club’s adviser, says the “Letters Home” project is mutually beneficial.

“Alumni can provide emotional and professional support as well as reconnect with peers while students learn about career opportunities,” Simons said.

Alumni who have been employed for at least six months may contribute to the blog by submitting a 300-word letter and a photo.

Updated: June 5, 2020

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