By Kelsi Peace, Staff Writer
The university welcomed Robin Roberts, co-anchor of Good Morning America, to campus Saturday as part of the Centennial Speaker Series.
Roberts spoke about “Putting Yourself in a Position for Good Things to Happen” at a dinner in the Teague Special Events Center.
Roberts attributed her success to her parents, saying they taught her the three d’s of life: “Discipline, determination, and de Lord.”
She recalled stories of her father, Lawrence Roberts, sitting in his basement as a child with only a broomstick handle to act as his plane’s joystick, despite others’ insistence that he could never become a pilot.
Today, Roberts said her father is a retired Air Force colonel and former Tuskegee Airman.
Roberts’ mother, Lucimarion Roberts, was the first in her family to attend college, Roberts said.
“I could look across the hall and find my role models: my mother and father,” Roberts said.
Roberts, who formerly hosted Prime Time and SportsCenter, attributed much of her determination to her experiences in sports.
In college, Roberts began working as the Sports Director at a local station, acting as a DJ at the affiliated country station on weekends.
Despite offers to work in news, Roberts said, she decided to work as a sportscaster at a station in Hattiesburg, Miss., after college. Working only 30 hours a week and earning $5.50 an hour, Roberts said she continued working toward her goal.
“I was making the sacrifices because I saw the big picture,” Roberts said.
After working in Biloxi, Miss., Roberts was offered a job at ESPN four years after she graduated from college.
Roberts turned the job down because she said she was not yet prepared.
“Think big, dream big, focus small,” Roberts said.
After working in Atlanta, Roberts said she returned to ESPN to host NFL Prime Time.
Roberts said she noticed her assignments moving from sports to human interest to news and said she thinks the reason for this shift was revealed in the events of Hurricane Katrina.
Roberts, whose mother had remained in the path of Katrina, said Good Morning America sent her to Lafayette, La. to cover the storm.
Roberts said in reality, she went to Louisiana to find her mother.
With the help of a local policeman, Roberts said she found her family.
About 80 percent of Roberts’ hometown is destroyed, but Good Morning America is working with the Salvation Army and the Corporation for National and Community Service to rebuild the town. Roberts said she believes this is the reason she was moved from sports to news.
“God’s delays are not his denials,” Roberts said.
Dr. Gary McCaleb, vice president of the university, read questions from the audience.
Questions included how Roberts balances her faith with her high profile job and the person Roberts most enjoyed interviewing.
Roberts named Michael Jordan and Arthur Ashe as her two most interesting interviews, but added, “I love the everyday person.”
Roberts said she was taught not to idolize people, which made her interviews with high-profile athletes like Jordan and Ashe enjoyable rather than intimidating.
“As journalists, we are treated like celebrities,” Roberts said, “but we should not act like celebrities.”
Roberts thanked the university for their persistence in securing her visit.
“You are so proud of what you have here,” Roberts said. “You make me want to go back and share your light.”