Dec. 15, 2021
Contact: Sara Diedrich, 573-882-3243, firstname.lastname@example.org
When Megan Silvey first arrived at the University of Missouri in 1994, she was a small-town girl with big dreams. Unbeknownst to her, Silvey’s life and career would take root at MU in ways unimaginable to the then 18-year-old.
She would grow, graduate, work, teach and even fall in love at Mizzou.
On Friday, Silvey, director of communications and marketing at MU Extension, will graduate for the second time from the university. This time with a long-sought master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. But until that moment, Silvey will savor the honor of being an MU alumna, student, faculty, staff, parent and donor — all at the same time.
A whole new world
Silvey was in the eighth grade when her family moved 20 miles north from their home in Columbia to her stepfather’s farm outside of Hallsville. Life in the town of 1,700 people was a far cry from the city, but she relished her family and close-knit community. After graduating from Hallsville High School — a class of about 40 students — Silvey set her sights on a degree from the best journalism school in the country: Mizzou. She had always been fascinated with the power of language to change human behavior and the idea that rhetoric was a skill that could be honed and used for both good and evil.
“I was passionate about understanding how to harness that power for good,” Silvey said.
Lucky for her, MU offered a whole new world only a short distance away. Plus, her mom worked as a nurse at University Hospital.
“I wanted to come to Mizzou and be lost in the masses,” Silvey said. “But it wasn’t a scary lost-in-the-masses because my mom worked on campus, and we lived 30 minutes away. It was nice to be close to home but in an entirely different environment.”
Silvey had already started making friends during Summer Welcome in 1994 when she was approached about joining Marching Mizzou. The student wanted to know if Silvey was “coordinated in any way.”
“I was a cheerleader,” Silvey answered.
“Great!” the young woman said. “We need you in the flag corps. Come to auditions.”
Silvey tried out, made the flag corps and participated in Marching Mizzou all four years of her undergraduate studies. As for the student recruiter, she and Silvey are still friends.
A turning point
Before graduating from MU in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Silvey spent her last semester studying abroad in Florence, Italy. By her senior year, she had developed a network of support, participating in extracurricular activities and making lifelong friends. Living overseas would be the ultimate next step. Turns out, it was another life-changing experience. When Silvey’s parents came to visit in Italy, her mother recognized the transformation in her daughter — and so did Silvey.
“It was a great moment for my mom and me when that switch flipped for both of us, and we realized I wasn’t this little kid from a small town anymore,” she said. “I was capable of being an adult.”
During the next seven years, Silvey would marry and move to Delaware, where she worked several jobs, including a stint as advertising manager for Dover International Speedway, a NASCAR track. But when she had her first child in 2005, Silvey felt the tug of family — and Mizzou.
“I was a thousand miles away,” she said. “So, I came home.”
A new chapter
Silvey’s first job at Mizzou was in 2005 as marketing director for MOREnet (Missouri Research and Education Network). Two years later, she had her second child at Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and, in 2008, she became marketing director for bookstores and student unions at all four UM universities. By 2009, Silvey’s career was going well and although she had become a single parent, she valued education and wanted to take advantage of being on a college campus. The Missouri School of Journalism had just launched a fully online master’s program, so she applied.
“I didn’t think I could attend classes in the day or night, but the online option was perfect for me,” Silvey said. “My kids were little, so I would put them to bed at 7:30 or 8 p.m. and use the rest of the evening for schoolwork.”
By 2012, Silvey had completed her coursework and started a new job as director of communications with the School of Health Professions. All she had to do was complete her thesis. Unfortunately, family health issues upended her plans, and her thesis was derailed. After that, life took off. Her daughters were no longer toddlers and now had after-school and evening activities. In 2013, Silvey built a house next to the family farm in Hallsville, and her stepdad mowed a path between the two homes. After school, her girls would get off the school bus at their grandparents’ house and later race across the path each evening when Silvey came home.
Life was good.
Love, the pandemic and the perfect time to write a thesis
In 2017, Megan married Stan Silvey, a father of three who also worked at Mizzou. In true Tiger fashion, he proposed at her favorite place on campus — the Columns — and the couple married in a suite on the west side of Memorial Stadium. Pictures were taken on Faurot Field.
“He came into my life at the exact right moment,” Silvey said.
By the time the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, Silvey had moved to a job with MU Extension and was working from home. Most activities had been canceled, and the kids’ activities had screeched to a halt. It was the perfect time to finish her thesis. The new topic: communication during COVID-19.
“From the time I was an undergraduate to now, Mizzou has shown me what kind of life was possible,” Silvey said. “Mizzou has been a source of opportunity for my entire life and career. I believe so strongly in the role of higher education, and the people I’ve met along the way have only reinforced that.”
Pass it on
Today, amidst directing communications for MU Extension and finishing her thesis, Silvey also teaches an introductory journalism class and is a proud parent of an MU student. She said she’s acutely aware that her success has come with abundant support from family, friends and Mizzou.
“If you can find the support system that makes it possible, you will never regret going back to school,” Silvey said. “The older I get, the more I want to be a part of that support system for somebody else. That’s a legacy I would like to leave.”
For Silvey, the best Mizzou journey is one shared with others.
“It is surprising to me how joyful it is to share resilience and perseverance with other people and how much motivation I take from others,” she said. “I enjoy the fact that anything I do at Mizzou that is good and successful is entangled with all these other people and their successes and stories in a million little ways that aren’t obvious.
“It’s just in the DNA of this place,” she said. “Maybe that is true of all universities, but I haven’t seen that because I haven’t been anywhere else but Mizzou. It feels magical to me.”