CBS sports personality returns to Ohio University; gives commencement address

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ATHENS, Ohio (WTAP) - This weekend nearly 4,200 students participated in Ohio University’s graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies. Students and their families gathered in the Convocation Center to officially move the tassel’s on their caps and leave the building as alumni.

It was the first spring commencement for Dr. Duane Nellis, the president of Ohio University. He says, “{The graduates are} following a tremendous group of Ohio University alumni of over 230,000 that are out there doing amazing things in the world and I just want them to be empowered and to go out and have that impact that is truly transformational.”

On Saturday, those at the undergraduate ceremony heard from a nationally-known sports personality, and Ohio University alumna, Allie LaForce.

LaForce works as a color analyst, sideline reporter, studio host and more.

President Nellis says she was chosen through a student nomination process. “She's really a pioneer and breaking through with women in sports broadcasting and we're just so proud of her and her leadership. She is truly indicative of the outstanding Scripps College of Journalism that we have here at Ohio University.”

LaForce was shocked when she got the invite. She explains, “When I got the email or the call from President Nellis' office I thought it was a prank at first. So I took a screenshot and sent it to my college roommates and said do you think it's serious should I respond? Because I just couldn't believe that they had asked me back already.”

LaForce graduated magna cum laude from Ohio’s nationally recognized Honors Tutorial College with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2011.

“I'm telling you when I drove into Athens it just made me realize that this is the most beautiful place on earth. And I have the luxury of covering college sports for a living so I've been on almost every campus and there's nothing like Athens, Ohio.” says LaForce.

Early in her career, LaForce was selected to join CBS Sports' "We Need to Talk,” television's first sports show hosted completely by women. She currently serves as a host and panelist for the groundbreaking show.

LaForce explains being a woman in sports during her speech. “People ask me all the time, 'Is hard being a woman in sports?' I tell them no. Not because it's never tough, of course it is. But everything is tough, life is tough. It's also wonderful and scary and heartbreaking and exhilarating and guess what, you're a Bobcat. You can handle it.”

President Nellis says the school is proud to call her a Bobcat. “Her energy, her enthusiasm, but she's still very grounded and has an important message for our students.”

In her commencement address, LaForce advised the graduates to be smart when using social media. “Use your youth and use your social media to your advantage but don't allow it to force you to blend in.”

She says, “I would just say, I got to where I am because of Ohio University. Period.”

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