Members of Mizzou ’39 class of 2014 celebrated
The 39 students were selected after a round of written applications and interviews.
Feb. 19, 2014
Every year, the Mizzou Alumni Association selects members of the graduating class as the Mizzou ’39, a title associated with the top-achieving seniors of the university.
The “39” in the Mizzou ’39 stands for the year MU was founded: 1839. It is also the number of seniors ultimately selected to participate in the reveal at Jesse Hall and recognition banquet.
Enjoying all sorts of success, from community service to undergraduate research to student leadership, the selected students are standouts among their class, Alumni Association Student Programs Coordinator Alyson Friend said.
“Each year, the judges comment on how difficult it is to select just 39 students, as all that apply are so exceptional,” Friend said.
Applicants of all different backgrounds and communities go through a round of written applications and cuts made before interviews. The top 39 are chosen after the interviews have been conducted, Friend said.
Both sets of applications are reviewed anonymously and the interviews are conducted by two panels of judges made up of MU faculty, staff and alumni volunteers.
Recipient Jess Miller said she had been anticipating the moment of the final reveal, which happened at 6:39 p.m. (or 18:39 in military time) Feb. 10 on the steps of Jesse Hall.
“We had kept the secret for two weeks,” Miller said of the reveal. “It wasn’t really a broadcast thing. I put up some sassy status on Facebook that obviously indicated I was in Mizzou ’39, but I didn’t say it out loud. It was pretty hush-hush.”
On top of working on an education major, Miller is an ambassador for the College of Education, a former Summer Welcome coordinator, a member of the Dance Marathon Steering Committee and a peer educator for the Wellness Resource Center.
During the reveal, she marveled at the variety of backgrounds the students she was surrounded by, Miller said.
“I was like, ‘Holy smokes, all these people are so cool, but none of us have the same experience,’ " she said. "No one had the exact same journey with Mizzou, which was the coolest thing to see.”
The recipients partook in the special unveiling ceremony alongside the MU faculty or staff member they had asked to recommend them in their applications.
Students chose advisers with whom they had bonds, such as the one recipient Joey Greenstein shares with Director of Student Life Kathy Murray.
Greenstein is a marketing major who also found a love of acting through his involvement with MU Improv. In his additional former position as director of student activities, Greenstein worked with Murray extensively.
"She was my direct adviser," Greenstein said. "What she did is let me learn my experiences. I’ve never worked so hard, and being so passionate about what she does, she’s just an amazing woman to be around.”
Recipient Mason Kerwick is also an MU Improv member, but the rest of his background differs from Greenstein's.
Currently the marketing director for Mizzou Alternative Breaks and the officer of communications for the MU Triangle Coalition, Kerwick also actively performed in MU Sketch and co-founded the Pride Tigers Mentorship program, which will launch next fall.
"My involvement at Mizzou has centered around organizations and programs that have engaged and inspired me toward becoming a better student leader and overall human," he said.
But Kerwick finds his peers just as impressive.
The strategic communications major was a sophomore transfer when he first arrived at MU, and he said the people he stood next to were individuals he admired.
"Some of my fellow Mizzou ’39 award recipients were established student leaders when I arrived on campus," he said. "To say I am in awe of the work they have done on this campus is an understatement. The fact that my personal journey is valued by others is a very humbling experience."
Greenstein said the award emphasizes how individual recipients of all backgrounds have excelled and grown during their time at MU.
"To say the 39 of us are all cookie-cutter, all similar and all do the same thing is kind of ridiculous," he said. "We all come from different walks of life, and we’re passionate about different things, and that is what makes us unique."