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University of Missouri

La Famiglia

Students who complete a journalism degree at MU are part of the family.

Allison Girvin, Greeley Kyle and Josh Hayes

Allison Girvin, Greeley Kyle and Josh Hayes stay connected through the Mizzou Mafia. Photos by Rachel Coward.

Students who persevere through Missouri School of Journalism course work develop a special bond. “These students have been in the same foxhole and have endured the same rigorous training, unrelenting deadlines and demanding but caring professors, and they have the skills and the scars to prove it,” says Greeley Kyle, assistant professor of journalism. Graduates call themselves the Mizzou Mafia, and they look out for one another. The same goes for Kyle. “I’ve been asked about story ideas, to look over scripts, I’ve been asked contract questions, and ‘how to deal with this issue’ questions. Over the years, I’ve counseled on stress, grief, burnout and the difficulty of childrearing.” Thing is, he says, “When you leave here, you’re famiglia [family].” Check out three Mizzou connections:

Allison Girvin, BJ ’99

At first, Girvin wasn’t so sure about Greeley Kyle, her broadcast professor. “He started out as my nemesis. He said at some point during that first class, ‘You know, I’m not sure this is really for you.’ It made me so mad, and I thought, ‘Oh, really, watch me. Watch me prove to you that this is for me!’ ” Before long, she did prove it, and Kyle became her mentor. “I came to find out years later that he said that to everyone,” Girvin says. Through the years, she has asked Kyle for career advice, and now they keep track of each other on Facebook. “My closest friends today are people I went to college with,” Girvin says. “We keep up those relationships and lean on them for life advice, work advice, for everything.”

Greeley Kyle

Of the hundreds of journalism students Kyle has taught since 1994, Allison Girvin stands out. “Allison worked incredibly hard in my class and at KOMU-TV. She was always a strategic thinker, even back in 1998 when she told me she planned to be working at a network as soon as possible, and she made it happen.” J-School alumni are loyal to the program, Kyle says. “In some cases this has led to us taking over entire newsrooms. One recent acquisition is in Knoxville, Tenn., at WBIR-TV. We placed our first graduate there 15 years ago, and currently we have 12 former students as major players in that one newsroom!” Faculty and alumni stay in touch via three Facebook groups: Mizzou Mafia Reporters/Anchors, Mizzou Mafia News Managers and KOMU Reporters Past & Present.

Josh Hayes, BJ ’99

With so many friends and social events and journalism classes in common, Hayes and Allison Girvin can’t recall exactly when they met at Mizzou. But they’ve been friends ever since. Girvin’s first job was at WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tenn., where Hayes grew up. She didn’t get much time off, so when Hayes returned home for holiday visits, Girvin would join him and his family for dinner. As the friends have pursued careers, their paths have crossed several times in the U.S. and abroad, and they otherwise keep in touch. In the meantime, Hayes plugs into the Mizzou network for his work for Pernod Ricard. At the office, that could take the form of helping Mizzou job applicants find a good fit. At a party once, he opened a conversation with actor Jon Hamm, BA ’93, saying, “M-I-Z,” to which Hamm replied, “Z-O-U.”