Missouri School of Journalism to recognize 84 students at Dec. 16 graduation ceremony

J-School graduates attend commencement with mortorboards decorated with where they will be working.
Missouri School of Journalism Commencement Program December 2023
Download the Missouri School of Journalism Commencement Program December 2023

The Missouri School of Journalism will recognize 84 students at the 11 a.m. commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16, in Jesse Auditorium. Seating is open and no tickets are required.

A link to a live stream of the ceremony will be available on the MU Graduation and Commencement Live Streaming page.

Graduate degrees will be awarded to one doctoral candidates and 11 master’s students.

Of the 72 undergraduates, 36 focused on some aspect of journalism; 36 on strategic communication. A total of 32 graduates earned Latin honors by achieving at least a 3.5 grade point average for the last 50 credits.

The top 10 percent of the School’s graduates will be inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a journalism honor society founded at the Missouri School of Journalism in 1910. The KTA reception will be held from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., Friday, Dec. 15, in the Fred W. Smith Forum, Room 200, in the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. The 10 new members of Kappa Tau Alpha are:

  • Master of Arts: Vivien Abraham, Michael Klevorn, Valerie Nava, Abbey Tauchen
  • Bachelor of Journalism:  Jaclyn Harris, Thomas Jamison, Joshua Shuman, Bradford Siwak, Samantha Walker, Paige Weckherlin

The alumni speaker is Karen Pensiero, BJ ’85, a veteran news leader who has spent much of her career focused on upholding journalism standards and ethics. 

Pensiero worked for over 38 years at The Wall Street Journal, which she left in February after more than five years as managing editor. In that role, she was responsible for hiring, training, the budget, culture and support of the Journal’s more than 1,300 journalists in over 60 bureaus around the globe. From 2004 until 2017, she focused on working closely with journalists throughout the reporting process, “final reading” the hardest-hitting Journal articles, and teaching and weighing issues of standards, ethics and fairness globally. 

Prior to that, she held a variety of positions throughout the Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones, including managing editor/international, overseeing the editing of the Journal’s Asian and European editions; Money & Markets editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe; director of corporate communications for Dow Jones; and director of Dow Jones Interactive Publishing International. 

Currently, she is advising and working with New York University’s new Ethics & Journalism Initiative and is on a launch committee working group for the Maine Trust for Local News. 

Pensiero serves on the boards of the Missourian Publishing Association, the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism CUNY Foundation in New York City and the Dow Jones News Fund. She has served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prize and the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism. Pensiero was also a member of the Dow Jones Foundation Board and of the advisory board of The Press Forward, an organization formed in the wake of the #MeToo movement that was dedicated to safe, fair and sustainable media work environments.  

She grew up in Warrensburg, Mo., and Columbia, Mo., and attended Hickman High School. She currently lives in Verona, N.J., and Mount Desert, Maine, with her husband, journalist Jim Pensiero. They have three children and two grandchildren. 

The master of ceremonies will be Jaclyn Harris, a Walter Williams Scholar and a Cherng Scholar graduating with a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in strategic communication. Harris is currently serving as the lead researcher and copywriter on her AdZou capstone team, which has spent the semester crafting a fully integrated campaign for a real-world client. Throughout her time at Mizzou, Harris has been grateful for the opportunity to participate in several involvement opportunities as a member of Delta Gamma, co-president of the Women in Media Club, working at KOMU-TV 8, and more. Last spring, she participated in the School’s Washington Program, where she worked as a communications intern for the United States Department of Commerce.

Bradford Siwak will present the “Thoughts of the Class.” Siwak is a Walter Williams Scholar and a Senator Wayne Goode Scholar graduating with degrees Journalism and Sociology, minors in French and Film Studies, and Honors and Multicultural certificates. His capstone documentary for the School’s Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism, West, won the 2023 Stacey Woelfel Award for Innovative Journalism at the School’s Stronger than Fiction Film Festival and will screen at the 2024 First Look Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image. This 37-minute, single-take film examines American cultural forces and narratives through St. Louis’ role in westward settler colonialism and its brand of westward white flight. Additionally, Siwak has worked as an editorial assistant for Vox Magazine and a staff photographer/videographer for the Columbia Missourian.

Updated: December 14, 2023

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