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Lester Holt honoree at Howard University

By Lauren Poteat, NNPA Newswire Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC — Celebrating the official start of the academic school year, Howard University, gave way to their 151st opening convocation with award-winning journalist, NBC anchor Lester Holt, who received an honorary doctorate during the event.

Challenging students at the historically Black institution to engross themselves in critical thinking, and to step outside of their ideological comfort zones, on Sept. 21, Holt dared scholars to re-imagine their views on journalism and “tap the breaks” on stories that might otherwise be considered a little “too good to be true.”

“I think we are all programmed to believe stories that confirm our beliefs,” Holt said. “We can’t be afraid to tap the brakes on stores that are too good to be true. The aim of mainstream journalism is not to make you feel good. What we set out to do is to tell you about the world as accurately as we can. Sometimes it’s going to directly challenge your sensibility.”

Detailing a free and independent press, the very first Black American on any major network to serve as the solo anchor of a weekday evening newscast, also went on to describe the media as a critical pillar of U.S. democracy, while stating that the health of journalism depended on engaged news consumers.

“There are always going to be things that divide us,” Holt said. “Don’t be afraid of a healthy debate. Be smart. Don’t shoot from the hip. Shoot from the brain armed with facts and knowledge.”

Rising 21 spots to No. 89 on the “U.S. News & World Report” best universities list, the HU opening convocation served as a time-honored tradition that officially signaled the start of the academic year, where the institution welcomed 1,600 new freshmen, much to the approval of HU President Wayne A. I. Frederick.

“Opening Convocation is an opportunity to reflect on how consequential the school year will be, not only for shaping our own lives but also for emphasizing our significance to this country and the world,” Frederick said.

“We have come here today to remind America of the purpose of higher education and to double down on our promise to seek truth and mission above all else,” Frederick continued.

In addition to the opening convocation, the institution also welcomed their inaugural Sports and Entertainment Summit (HUSE), held from Sept. 21–22.

Featuring forums with top sports and entertainment industry executives, including a one-on-one conversation with keynote speaker Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the National Football League (NFL), the two-day summit aimed to give young professionals of color an inside look at opportunities in the competitive markets of sports and entertainment.

“Our support of HUSE aligns with the intricacies of business that we have learned and experienced that can be of immediate benefit to young professionals in the program,” Vincent said in a statement. “Sport offers endless opportunities for a lifetime of success and we want to lend our voice and experiences to those who can utilize this platform for ultimate success both professionally and personally. That is our aim and goal.”

The HUSE, conceived and organized by Howard University School of Business students, addressed a growing area that many students aspired to pursue in their careers and also included speakers Adrienne Lofton, former Senior Vice President, Global Brand Management, Under Armour, and incoming Nike Marketing Executive, will open the summit on Friday. Rel Carter, A&R of Roc Nation, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s music and entertainment company and Kadeem Pilgrim, a 2nd-year MBA student and co-creator to the HUSE Summit.

“The core purpose of this event is to create more opportunities in sports and entertainment for students and young professionals of color,” Pilgrim said. “It’s important to open more doors in these competitive industries for passionate and talented students who will become tomorrow’s industry leaders.”

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