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Leaning In

Passion discovered as a student continues into career

Published Nov. 13, 2015
Story by Christine Jackson
Photo by Nick Ehrhard

Marcia Chatelain speaks at a podium in Stotler Lounge, Memorial Union

Georgetown University assistant professor and Mizzou alumna Marcia Chatelain delivered the keynote address at the Women's Leadership Conference March 14, 2015, in Memorial Union, where she told students, "You have to lean into life and create incredible memories."

There is a place for every type of person at Mizzou; all students have to do is find it. That’s what Marcia Chatelain discovered when she came to the university in 1997. 

“I think sometimes big state schools can, on the surface, seem like it’s only about football and Homecoming and Greek Life,” says Chatelain. “But one of the things that I found was that there are a lot of people who were interested in all of those things, that were also committed to a lot of the issues that were important to me.”

Chatelain found her place in various social justice-focused groups. She helped start the “Hate Report,” which documented graffiti and collected stories of bias on campus. She was part of the campaign to add sexual orientation to the university non-discrimination policy, and an active member of different diversity organizations.

After graduating from Mizzou with degrees in religious studies and journalism, Chatelain received a master’s degree and doctorate in American civilization from Brown University. Today, she is an associate professor at Georgetown University, where she specializes in African-American history.

Chatelain’s professional background and the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, led her to create #FergusonSyllabus, a Twitter campaign that encouraged educators to discuss the crisis in the classroom.

Chatelain remains involved with Mizzou as a resource for alumni in Washington, D.C. This past year she also spoke on campus at the annual Women’s Leadership Conference.

Chatelain says she believes that the university is only as strong as its supporters. “[When I was a student,] there were so many ‘grown-ups’ who really trusted us and cared for us and really set a good example,” Chatelain says. “I feel like I owe the university community a lot because I really feel that Mizzou launched me.”

This story was originally published in the division annual report, 2015 Student Affairs Highlights.

Published by the Division of Student Affairs, 211 Jesse Hall, Columbia, MO 65211 | Phone: 573-882-6776 | Fax: 573-882-0158 | E-mail:

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Last updated: Aug. 15, 2017