Tag Archives: Commencement

ESPN’s Jemele Hill Named Merrill College Commencement Speaker

Jemele Hill. (Photo: The Crawford Austin Agency)

Jemele Hill. (Photo: The Crawford Austin Agency)

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.

For more information, contact:
Alexander A. Pyles

Merrill College Graduates Told to Seek Truth, Follow Passion at Commencement

Winter 2017 commencement program

Philip Merrill College of Journalism students were urged to relentlessly seek truth and follow their passion during the college’s commencement ceremony Wednesday morning at the University of Maryland.

Full video of the hour-long ceremony at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park, Maryland, is available on the Merrill College YouTube page.

Merrill College Dean Lucy Dalglish told the audience she always thinks commencement is “inspiring and up-lifting.” She said that while college faculty and staff were sad to see students go, they were also pleased to see students’ “excitement to get on with the next stage in their lives.”

Students were celebrated for completing bachelor’s, master’s and graduate certifications in journalism. Several students received special recognition during the ceremony:

  • Alexandra Simon was named Outstanding Broadcast News Senior
  • Katishi Maake was named Outstanding Multimedia News Senior
  • Julie Depenbrock was named Outstanding Master’s Student

Summer Breeze Bedard, a founding member of the college’s first satirical news class, Laughing Matters, was selected by her peers as the commencement’s student speaker.

Bedard told classmates to embrace outside-the-box ways to tell stories and to stand up for the truth.

“We’ve reached a point in a politically polarized, post-truth America where facts seem biased,” Bedard said. “Facts are said to have a liberal political angle, and you need to be willing to stand up and say that is wrong. … The core of journalism is just honesty and authenticity.”

The college also recognized members of the faculty and staff who plan to retire.

Associate Dean Olive Reid, who started full-time work as an adviser at the college in 1992, plans to retire this month. She said during the ceremony she was struck by the way so many college students she advised grew into successful professionals. Many have now become her advisers, Reid said.

She noted that around 90 percent of Merrill College students find jobs within six months of graduation.

“But I can tell you 99.9999 percent of you will go on to use your hard-won skills in wonderful and lucrative ways,” Reid said. “I can say confidently that if you follow your passion, you’ll stay on the right path.”

Professor Carl Sessions Stepp, who joined the Merrill College faculty in 1983, gave the commencement address. Stepp plans to retire after the spring semester.

Stepp urged the graduates to find motivation not just from their thoughts, but their feelings and all the places they’ve been.

“Journalism faces serious challenges, our country faces serious challenges, our world faces serious challenges,” Stepp said. “And we’re counting on you, and people like you, to help us fix things — to seek and tell the truth when it’s not always easy, and it’s not always appreciated.”

Storify Tells the Tale for Commencement 2017 at Merrill College



Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold is Merrill Commencement Speaker

David Fahrenthold - Washington Pos.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (March 7) – Washington Post Investigative reporter David Fahrenthold will be Merrill College’s commencement speaker this coming May. The ceremony is set for the Memorial Chapel on Saturday, May 20 at 3 p.m.

During the recent presidential campaign, Fahrenthold’s coverage included a year-long series of articles that became must-read as he tried to find out what non-profit organizations Donald Trump had contributed to. He described the experience – using a simple pad of paper to list each non-profit as he called them – in a Post article on Dec. 29 of last year. (He found that Trump has made very few charitable contributions over the years – and used his foundation to pay for personal things like a portrait of himself and even cub scout dues for his son.)


Merrill Student Committee Plan

A Merrill College committee of seniors graduating in May met last semester to talk about possible speakers.The committee included Ellie Silverman, Talia Richman, Michael Stern, Cameron Rogers, Carm Saimbre, Ciara Cione, Maggie Gottlieb and Erica Bonelli.

They came up with a Doodle Pole for the senior class to get their top choices and Fahrenthold rose to the top.

The students came up with a two-part plan:

  • Knight Chair Dana Priest – who is also a Post reporter – talked with Fahrenthold about being commencement speaker and he indicated he would be excited to speak. But there was more to do:
  • The students decided to use social media (primarily Twitter) to reach out to him during Leslie Walker’s JOUR480 (The Business of Journalism) class. As Talia Richman observed in an email, “When Fahrenthold was reporting on Donald Trump’s charitable giving, he kept his Twitter followers up-to-date on his findings and crowdsourced to get more information. This was an incredible way to use new technology to do basic follow-the-money reporting. We thought it would be cool to use this method as a way to ask him to be our grad speaker.” Hand-written requests on plain paper would be used as a way to get the messaging out during their Twitter campaign Monday evening, March 6.

After some 100 posts our students had a definitive answer!


The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold.


Scott Van Pelt, Jessie Karangu Tapped as Commencement Speakers

Scot Van Pelt

Live Stream: http://go.umd.edu/May2016

Thanks to Amanda Eisenberg for help preparing this story.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Spring commencement speakers for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism are set. ESPN SportCenter host Scott Van Pelt is the main commencement speaker for the May 19 event at Ritchie Coliseum. The program starts at 9 a.m. He was the top choice of Merrill seniors. Student Jessie Karangu was voted by Merrill seniors as the student speaker.

In a message to the Merrill College community, Dean Lucy Dalglish wrote, “As you know, Scott is a loyal Terp and a great friend of the college. He majored in Radio-Television-Film while a student at Maryland. Thank you to seniors Sam Stern and Michelle Leibowitz for their work surveying seniors to see who they wanted for a speaker, then doing the work to make it happen.”

Van Pelt says he is honored to have been chosen by Merrill College students as their commencement speaker and wants Merrill Terps to know he “is one of them and they’re one of me.”

Jessie Karangu is the student commencement speaker at Merrill College in May, 2016.

Senior Jessie Karangu is the student commencement speaker for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

Senior Jessie Karangu was chosen by the class of 2016 as this year’s student commencement speaker. Karangu is the editor in chief of Pulsefeedz.

“I’m so honored to be chosen as commencement speaker,” he said. “As I promised, I’m going to try and make sure the speech isn’t boring and that your day is as ‘lit’ as possible.”

Karangu also writes for Awful Announcing and the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism, and worked as a reporter in the broadcast bureau of Capital News Service. The Baltimore native has on-air aspirations and also hopes to own his own digital empire one day.

Main Commencement Website
Commencement FAQ

Philip Merrill College of Journalism Information