ESPN host to speak at UT Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth

January 24, 2017 | Events, News, UToday
By Christine Billau

An award-winning national sports journalist and analyst on ESPN will be the keynote speaker at The University of Toledo’s 33rd Annual Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth Saturday, Jan. 28.

Sponsored by Toledo Excel and the UT Joint Committee, the conference for seventh- and eighth-graders, high school students, parents and the community will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. This year’s theme is “Expectations vs. Reality: Exploring Gender Roles in Society.”



Jemele Hill, co-host on ESPN2’s “His and Hers” with Michael Smith, is scheduled to take over as co-host of the 6 p.m. broadcast of “SportsCenter” next month. “SportsCenter” is the iconic show that established ESPN as a brand.

“Jemele Hill broke down barriers as a woman achieving at such a high level in the world of sports and sports media dominated by men,” David Young, director of the Toledo Excel Program, said. “She is a great role model for our students, and we are inspired by her perspective and passion. Jemele also shares a background that is familiar to many of our students, and attended Michigan State University on academic scholarship from a program that has similarities to Toledo Excel.”

For 28 years, Toledo Excel has provided college preparation and scholarships to underrepresented students, including African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans. Through services such as summer institutes, academic retreat weekends, campus visits and guidance through the admission process, students increase their self-esteem, cultural awareness and civic involvement.

“Our goal is to empower students to not set limitations on themselves when deciding on potential career choices,” Young said. “We want them to reconsider their ideas about stereotypically men’s and women’s careers. Jemele is a wonderful example of a successful individual who chose a career not typically thought of for her gender. She is flourishing.”

Last year, Hill moderated President Barack Obama’s town hall discussion on race relations, justice, policing and equality that was broadcast on ABC and ESPN titled “The President and the People: A National Conversation.”

Before joining ESPN in 2006, Hill worked as a sports columnist in Orlando and Detroit. She began her career in 1997 as a general assignment sports reporter in Raleigh, N.C.

A native of Detroit, Hill graduated from Michigan State University in 1997 with a degree in journalism and a minor in Spanish.

After Hill’s keynote address at the conference, breakout sessions for parents and students will be held to discuss career obstacles and how others have overcome the obstacles.

“We want to empower families to view options in the workplace as unlimited,” Young said.

Toledo Excel is based in the Office of Multicultural Student Success, which is part of the Division of Student Affairs. The UT Joint Committee includes representatives from UT, Toledo Public and parochial schools, and civic and community leaders from the city of Toledo. The mission of the committee is to bring together people in the Toledo community interested in the education of underrepresented youth. The UT Joint Committee also serves as an advisory board and support system for Toledo Excel.

Make a reservation for the free, public conference by visiting or by calling 419.530.3820.

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