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Pioneering Sports Journalist Lesley Visser Delivers Lasell College Commencement Address

May 15, 2017

Lesley Visser with President AlexanderLasell College held its 163rd Commencement exercises Sunday, May 14 on its Newton, Massachusetts campus, granting 367 Baccalaureate degrees and 116 Master's degrees before an audience of family, friends and members of the Lasell community.

Lesley Visser, a broadcast sports journalist and media personality, delivered a keynote speech that touched on her current reporter duties on CBS's The NFL Today and her contributing role on We Need To Talk, the first all-women's network sports talk show, as well as her distinguished four-decade journalism career.

Visser urged the graduates to "be the change you want to see in the world," and, in that spirit, shared a childhood memory that continues to resonate. At a young age Visser announced to her mother that sports would be her chosen vocation, "My mother said 'sometimes you have to cross when it says 'don't walk,' words that changed my life," she told the audience.

A Quincy, MA native, Visser has a resume that reads as a roster of "firsts." She is the first woman the Boston Globe hired as a sports reporter, the first woman to cover the National Football league (NFL) on a regular basis, the first female NFL color analyst, the first woman to cover the World Series for a network broadcast, the first woman to be recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the first woman broadcaster to carry the Olympic Torch.

Known throughout the media industry for focusing on substance over style, Visser takes her role as a mentor seriously often reaching out to help young reporters navigate the sports television industry.

She offered the freshly-minted Lasell Bachelor's and Master's degree holders advice about the job market, encouraging them to "meet with everyone you can . . . and send handwritten thank-you notes," adding that "geography should have no bearing" on where you work. 

She also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree.

The audience heard a message from Lasell College President Michael B. Alexander, as well, who encouraged members of the Class of 2017 to take seriously their responsibility as highly educated people "to develop dedication and reverence for the truth."

"Failure to educate our populace," Alexander said, "is the greatest threat to peace."  

Class of 2017 undergraduate student speaker Yordan Villalon and graduate student speaker Melissa Deborah Miller also addressed the class, reminding students to savor their Lasell memories and to continue contributing to "the diverse fabric of our society" as they go out into the world.

The Commencement exercises honored Lasell History Professor Dennis A. Frey, Jr. and Director of Graduate Student Services Gillian Stanley for excellence in educational leadership.