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Storm hopes her commencement address helps school move forward

She previews her May 6 speech at the University of Portland, recently shaken by controversial sports banquet incident

Hannah Storm on the SportsCenter set. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Editor’s Note: SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm will give the commencement address at the University of Portland on Sunday, May 6. She’s receiving an honorary doctorate in public service from Portland. She wrote the following piece for Front Row on how she has prepared for the speaking engagement:

Preparing to write a commencement address is an enormous responsibility: It’s one of the biggest days of these graduates’ lives and is important for the families who have sacrificed so much.

When writing a speech of any kind, I first find out as much as I can about my audience. I try to speak with someone from the school and inquire about what has and has not resonated in the past with the students. I also find out specifically about things that might have happened which have impacted the student body, so that I can refer to them and adjust my message to the needs of that particular community.

This weekend, I will be giving the commencement address for the University of Portland schools of nursing, engineering, and business. At the recent spring sports awards banquet, there was an incident which shook the students, administrators, alumni, and board. A tennis player, who was hosting the event, shocked the audience with his misogynistic comments. UP is a “Green.Dot” campus and many of its students have been educated in bystander intervention – it’s a place that has put a premium on safety for its students. And yet a celebratory event for its athletes became a source of outrage and embarrassment.

I feel blessed to be able to share with members of the UP community my own experiences with bigotry and ignorance and offer a positive call to action. I hope to infuse them with the knowledge that they can make a difference and act as leaders in whatever worlds and situations they find themselves in after they leave college.

ESPN 2018 Commencement Speakers

Several ESPN commentators are featured speakers at graduation exercises across the country this spring, including Countdown NFL analyst Charles Woodson (see tweet above). He spoke at the University of Michigan’s commencement ceremonies on April 28.

“It was certainly a tremendous honor, one that I accepted with great humility, to be selected as the University of Michigan’s 2018 commencement speaker,” Woodson told Front Row.

“I tried to stress these themes to the students: the pride that they will have in their university long after they leave . . . having the ability to see people as human beings . . . and accepting help, manifesting that help and then transferring it along to someone else. That’s a positive electric current that can’t be stopped and will help these graduates achieve greatness.”

ESPN’s Commencement Speakers

MAY 6

MAY 7

    • SportsCenter anchor and studio host Matt Barrie at Arizona State University

MAY 21

JUNE 23