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Jemele Hill, Homecoming grand marshal, discusses her time at MSU

September 26, 2014
<p>Bristol, CT - June 5, 2014 - Studio N: Jemele Hill on the set of Numbers Never Lie
(Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)</p>

Bristol, CT - June 5, 2014 - Studio N: Jemele Hill on the set of Numbers Never Lie (Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

Photo by Joe Faraoni | The State News

ESPN columnist Jemele Hill, a journalism alumna and former reporter for The State News, will serve as the grand marshal for the 2014 Homecoming. She will lead the parade Friday to kick off this weekend’s festivities. Saturday, she will attend the homecoming game to be recognized. Later in the day, Hill will receive an award from the MSU Black Alumni as a distinguished alumni.

Upon her arrival, Hill will broadcast her ESPN2 show titled “Numbers Never Lie” along with her co-host Michael Smith, live from the Union. The show will go from noon to 1 p.m. The show will feature basketball head coach Tom Izzo along with alumni and professional football player Plaxico Burress and former NBA player Mateen Cleaves.

When Hill received the notice of selection to serve as grand marshal this summer, she was pleasantly surprised. She said she is looking forward to participating in the events and reconnecting with old friends and her old campus.

“I had some of the best memories of my life at MSU, and to be honored in this capacity is a big deal,” Hill said.

SN: What were some of your best memories at MSU? Whether it be as student or an employee at The State News?

JH: I miss all the rodeo burgers at Peanut Barrel and Long Island iced teas, and having a bucket on my head at Crunchy’s. Many things that make Michigan State such a special environment, but I will say this and I do mean it — 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.

SN: What guided you to take the career path you chose?

JH: Well a dirty little secret is that I originally wanted to go to the University of Michigan because one of my best friends went to Michigan, so I thought it would be cool if we both went there. But they discontinued their journalism program. In high school I was working as a clerk at the (Detroit) Free Press in the sports department and a lot of the people that worked at the Free Press went to MSU, so they just basically brainwashed me by committee. Once I looked into the particulars, for me, MSU was the best the journalism decision to make. Great journalism program, the reputation of the The State News was huge, and I also knew a few people from my high school that were going there. Not that it mattered, but it wasn’t like I was going there without knowing anybody. So my decision to go to Michigan State in the first place was completely career related.

SN: You have obviously shattered many barriers as far as being an African American female in a typically white male dominated field which is sports journalism. What skills did MSU provide to you, if any, that enabled you to be successful?

JH: Especially when it comes to sports, people are very emotional about their teams, they’re emotional about players they like, and issues. Because I had already begun that process of writing about controversial things as a reporter or even as a columnist I sort of got my first taste of what it was like to have and write things that are discussed campus-wide or on a wider basis, so it got me accustomed to becoming a discussion point. I developed some thick skin and I think that’s one of the more important traits of a journalist as they go forward. After my college experience, by the time I started making my way to the professionals, a lot of things that I think would bother people about what was either said or written about them they just didn’t bother me anymore because I had already gone through all that at MSU.

SN: What are you looking forward to the most upon your arrival this weekend?

JH: Well I’m looking forward to my show being there on Friday I think it will be a unique experience not just for us, but for the students. I’m looking forward to how we will execute that, with the opportunity coming to a college campus. Also, looking forward to festivities, activities, and opportunity to reconnect with my friends, most of which I don’t get to see on a regular basis, most of which I don’t get to see very often. Just to briefly get caught up in the athletic server at MSU because when I was going there, the football team was that good. Basketball was kind of good, but still not nearly the powerhouse as it is today. Just to return when the environment as far as sports is positive is going to be a treat to be on campus and experience all that personally.

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