Students, faculty and alumni gathered in the Florida A&M University School of Journalism and Graphic Communication (J-School) convergence room to meet alumna Pam Oliver. on Aug. 7 prior to summer commencement.
Oliver is the FOX-NFL Sports sideline reporter and 60-Minute contributor. Oliver was a student in FAMU’s journalism program. She returned to FAMU to deliver the commencement speech for the graduation class of 2015. Oliver came back to revisit the halls of J-school and speak to students about her journey. Students listened as Oliver shared her humble beginnings as a former student and as a current on-air reporter.
“I started exactly where you guys are right now. I wasn’t the top student but I loved everything about journalism,” Oliver said.
The sports reporter reflected on her journey after attending FAMU and stressed the importance of passion.
“My very first job was a struggle” Oliver said. “Back then we were sent out with no stories and we were expected to come back with three. I had to get it done because there was no alternative… That requires passion.”
Failure was one of Oliver’s key points and as she told students about the struggles she overcame and continues to confront during her career as a reporter.
“I think it’s good to fear failure… Failure is a good motivator,” Oliver said. She went on to say it was her fear of letting people down, that made her push to get what seemed like the impossible done.
Oliver talked about how her belief in going above and beyond is what landed her the opportunity to become a sports anchor.
“Our sports guy couldn’t cover the game so I volunteered and he was like, ‘No, I don’t think so,’ and I was like ‘Come on, I’m volunteering here’… It was something about the press conference that I liked.”
Shortly after convincing her news director to let her report for sports she received a call from ESPN. She said she knew that it wasn’t her time just yet.
“I turned them down because I just knew that I wasn’t ready,” she said.
As Oliver closed her speech, she explained the importance of knowing one's abilities as a journalist.
"I actually asked them to give me one year to sharpen my craft.”
Oliver’s story and advice inspired many of the students who attended the event. Students said that they received a lot of valuable information and felt encouraged by her words.
“What I took away from her speech was that journalism students at FAMU today have more than enough resources to succeed in the field,”senior, Khadijah Johnson said.
Other students said the speech was exactly what they needed to hear.
“I learned that everyone’s route is not a one way road, sometimes you have pit stops. The speech was what I needed to hear, especially for going into my final semester,” said senior broadcast journalism student Widson Charlemont
A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place shortly after the event, where the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication's Dean, Ann Kimbrough, FAMU Sports Information Director Vaughn Wilson, FAMU women’s track coach Darlene Moore, and a crowd of supporters, presented a hall in honor of Oliver’s achievements.
Students will now have a constant reminder of the heights they can reach when walking into the Pam Oliver Production Hall.