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Southeastern recognizes acclaimed alumna with honorary Doctor of Humanities degree
Thursday, May 22
"I am so honored to be here ... and I am proud to call Southeastern home."
Southeastern's most visible alum, ABC's Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts was visibly moved when she was awarded an honorary doctor of humanities degree at her alma mater's recent spring commencement ceremony.
"It wasn't that long ago that I was sitting where you are," said the 1983 communication graduate and former basketball star. "Commencement is both an end and a new beginning. Back then, like many of you, I just wanted a J-O-B."
Roberts promised the more than 1,200 graduates two gifts: a copy of her latest book Everybody's Got Something and a short commencement address, a message greeted with enthusiasm by the assembled students. "Only a few comments, then we can all party," she stressed.
"This day isn't about me ... it's about you," she said. "You've put yourselves in a position for great things to happen. The secret to getting ahead is getting started. When fear knocks, let faith answer the door."
In presenting the honorary doctorate, President John L. Crain said Roberts climbed the broadcasting career ladder from part time work as a student-athlete working at Southeastern's KSLU radio and Hammond's Northshore Broadcasting to a career with ESPN and later the ABC Network. Named Southeastern's Distinguised Alumna of the Year in 1996, Roberts has been inducted into the university's Athletics Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame by the WNBA. Her jersey was retired by Southeastern in 2011.
"Through her climb up the media ladder, Robin has remained the humble individual she was when she left Pass Christian High and Southeastern," Crain said. "She has remained close to her alma maters, and has become Southeastern's greatest ambassador, never hesitating to recall the great experiences she enjoyed here."
Crain noted Roberts' numerous recognitions by various groups, including being named one of the NCAA's 100 Most Influential Student-Athletes, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and the Be Greater Award for work with her community and Be the Match, a non-profit organization that manages the world's largest bone marrow donor registry. A breast cancer survivor, Roberts has also been honored for her efforts to call attention to that disease, as well as myelodysplastic syndrome, known as pre-leukemia, for which she underwent a bone marrow transplant.
"No introduction of Robin would be complete without noting the bravery she has demonstrated in life as a fighter against breast cancer and in her most recent challenge in dealing with pre-leukemia," Crain said. "She used both challenges to better educate the public about these diseases and what can be done through prevention and modern medicine.
"Her genuine, down-to-earth good nature allows her to relate to anyone ... from Presidents to children," Crain added. "Her personal and professional achievements make her a true role model for young people everywhere and an inspiration to us all."