This year’s Homecoming parade was special for the college as the 2014 Homecoming grand marshal was one of our own, 1997 journalism alumna and ESPN commentator Jemele Hill, who was a perfect fit for this year’s Homecoming theme, “Spartans Make Headlines.”
“I had some of the best memories of my life at MSU and to be honored in this capacity is a big deal,” said Hill, who has worked for ESPN since 2006 and has made regular appearances on several ESPN programs, including “SportsCenter,” “ESPN First Take,” “Outside the Lines” and “The Sports Reporters.”
Hill began her ESPN career as a national columnist for ESPN.com. She now hosts the ESPN2 discussion and debate show “His & Hers with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill” (previously called “Numbers Never Lie”).
As part of MSU’s Homecoming week festivities, Hill brought her show to campus for a live taping before an audience of students, alumni and friends at the MSU Union. The public also was invited to watch WKAR’s Al Martin interview Hill for an episode of “Current Sports.”
“I never wanted to work for ESPN. I never wanted to do television period,” Hill told Martin. “When I graduated from Michigan State, my entire focus was on being a sports writer. My ultimate goal was to work for Sports Illustrated. I think what you’ll often find is you will be surprised where your career takes you.”
Hill’s career path changed after she took a columnist job at The Orlando Sentinel. It was there she found she wasn’t just reporting stories, but that she had become a brand into herself. However, her ability to comfortably offer her opinions on a weekly basis in front of a nationally televised audience, had its beginnings at MSU.
“Because I worked at The State News and wrote opinion columns there, I’m really comfortable with giving my opinion on television,” Hill said. “I think you can teach people the ins and outs of TV – the mechanics – but what you can’t teach them is how to have an opinion. So here’s where I learned how to have an opinion and how to develop that.”
MSU gave Hill the skills necessary for her career as well as life skills.
“I was born in Detroit and raised there, but I grew up at Michigan State. That’s why the university will always be special to me,” Hill said. “Michigan State was a place where I came into my own. I learned not only the necessary skills to be a journalist, but to be a person – I learned life skills, things that I could apply when I made the transition into the adult world.”
This is the second year in a row a ComArtSci graduate has served as MSU’s Homecoming grand marshal. Last year’s grand marshal was Geoff Johns, a 1995 telecommunication alumnus and the Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment.
Joining Jemele Hill in this year’s Homecoming parade were two communication students who served as Homecoming Ambassadors. Senior Jason Murray, a human resource management major with an additional major in communication, and senior Sarah Noffze, a marketing major specializing in sales communication, both are members of the 2014-2015 Homecoming Court and rode in the Sept. 26 parade.
WKAR also played its part in the parade with “Curious Crew” Host Rob Stephenson and cast members, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and the WKAR production van all making an appearance.
As the parade marched through downtown East Lansing and MSU’s campus, ComArtSci alumni and friends watched from the college Homecoming Bash at Beggar’s Banquet, an annual tradition for the college.
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