COLLEGE PARK (5/1/18) — ESPN journalist Jemele Hill will be the spring commencement speaker at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
A committee of graduating seniors voted this semester to invite Hill.
“I’m thrilled to give the commencement address to the next generation of brilliant journalists,” Hill said. “I hope in some tiny way I can inspire them to take the lead in being the thought leaders that can protect and challenge our industry. My message is pretty simple: We need them.”
Merrill College commencement exercises will be held at Ritchie Coliseum on Monday, May 21 at 10 a.m. More than 100 students — including bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. candidates — are expected to receive degrees from the college this spring.
One of the most influential voices in sports media and an Emmy Award-winning journalist, Hill is a chief correspondent and senior columnist for The Undefeated, ESPN’s content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture.
Hill, who joined The Undefeated in January 2018, is a multiplatform journalist. Hill writes, conducts newsmaker interviews, offers commentary and creates a variety of content for The Undefeated’s digital, television and audio platforms. She also hosts events and other important initiatives, including The Undefeated town halls and television specials.
A gifted storyteller and critical thinker, Hill regularly appears on various ESPN platforms and programs to offer her perspective and commentary. The variety of shows she contributes to includes E:60, ESPN’s award-winning newsmagazine, SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, Around the Horn and Highly Questionable, as well as various radio and podcasts produced by ESPN Audio.
Prior to joining The Undefeated, Hill co- anchored “SportsCenter” for a year with her longtime friend and colleague Michael Smith. “SC6 with Michael & Jemele” debuted in February 2017 as a more personality driven approach to the traditional 6 p.m. “SportsCenter.” Focusing on sports, music, movies and more, SC6 was born from Hill and Smith’s popular “His & Hers” podcast and weekday television show, which debuted on ESPN2 in 2014.
In July 2016, Hill participated in “The President and the People: A National Conversation” – a one-hour town hall with President Barack Obama on race relations, justice, policing and equality — simulcast on ABC and ESPN.
Hill originally joined ESPN in 2006 as a national columnist for ESPN.com. Her profile gradually rose as she began to make appearances on television, including “SportsCenter,” “First Take,” “Around the Horn,” “The Sports Reporters” and “Outside the Lines.” She also spent a season as a sideline reporter for ESPN college football games.
Before joining ESPN, Hill was a sports columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 2005–06 — the lone African-America female sports columnist in the country. From 1999-2005, she served as a sports writer with the Detroit Free Press covering Michigan State football and basketball. Hill began her career in 1997 as a general assignment sports writer for the Raleigh News & Observer.
In 2007, Hill won the first annual McKenzie Cup, which is presented at the annual Poynter Media Summit in tribute to groundbreaking sports editor Van McKenzie, whom she worked with at the Orlando Sentinel. She also received an honorable mention in the 2007 edition of “Best American Sports Writing.”
A member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) — which is headquartered in John S. and James L. Knight Hall, home of the Merrill College — Hill also won first place in sports feature writing at the North Carolina Press Association in 1998.
A native of Detroit, Hill graduated from Michigan State University in 1997 with a degree in journalism and a minor in Spanish.
Sports journalism is a key piece of the curriculum at Merrill College, which is home to The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism. Through panels, workshops and support of the college’s academic offerings, the center is a resource for students and professional journalists, as well as the university and greater community.