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ESPN broadcaster Brooke Weisbrod encourages CCU graduates to find purpose through passion

May 8, 2023
Coastal Carolina University held its spring commencement exercises May 5-6, with approximately 1,625 students eligible to participate.CCU alumna Brooke Weisbrod ’01, an ESPN broadcaster, gave the keynote address.A Universitywide ceremony recognizing all graduates was held on Friday, May 5, at 9 a.m. in Brooks Stadium.

Coastal Carolina University held its spring commencement exercises May 5-6, with approximately 1,625 students eligible to participate. A Universitywide ceremony recognizing all graduates was held on Friday, May 5, at 9 a.m. in Brooks Stadium and featured a keynote address by CCU alumna Brooke Weisbrod ’01, an ESPN broadcaster. Weisbrod received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony.

In her address, Weisbrod, a former Chanticleer three-sport standout who graduated cum laude, shared how special it was to return to her alma mater for this occasion. She listed off other notable alumni, from athletes to artists, and said telling people that she went to CCU “elicits a huge smile every time.” She thanked her family for their support both today and during her college journey, including her mom, Deb, who accompanied her to the ceremony.

“She and I were at a college fair about 25 years ago when I picked up a brochure with a photo of the beach on the front and said, ‘Hey, this place Coastal Carolina looks pretty cool. I wonder if they need a shooting guard?’”

Weisbrod asked students to reflect on the highlights of their time at CCU and not to panic about the question of “what’s next?”

“You know what makes that question way less scary? Purpose. Passion creates purpose. Purpose creates action. Action quiets anxiety,” she said. “You’ve heard this before. Each of you has a purpose. You actually have many. How will you know what your purpose is? When you find it, or it finds you, you’ll feel it.”

Weisbrod shared her post-college journey and how her answer to the “What’s next?” question changed over time. 2023 graduates heard how the alumna went from playing basketball in Germany at age 21 to retirement from the sport five months later and how a chance interaction during a return visit to CCU led to her career in broadcasting. She also shared her “22 years of after-college CliffsNotes,” encouraging graduates to have a creative outlet, get curious, “listen to learn, not respond,” and more.

“Your purpose is to take action on what lights you up, and your bigger purpose is to take action on what lights up others. Like our beloved mascot, Chauncey, you are proud, fierce, and quick-thinking.”

Friday’s event also featured remarks by CCU President Michael T. Benson and Destiny Jackson, Student Government Association executive vice president.

During his remarks to the Class of 2023, Benson said: “I have come to know many of you soon-to-be-graduates personally, but even if today marks the first time I shake your hand, rest assured that our faculty, our staff, and I have closely followed your progress, and today we feel like proud parents ourselves … Just as surely as your Coastal experience has shaped your own trajectory, you now have the capacity to enrich the lives of others, those with whom you will live and work alongside and those of the next generation who might follow in your footsteps.”

Jackson, a 2023 graduate herself, reflected on her four years at CCU and encouraged her fellow graduates to remember their happy times at the University as they go out into the world.

“When life comes at you fast and it feels like you’re expected to do so much in such little time, think about a place that makes you feel calm, that makes you feel happy and just take a breather,” said Jackson. “Think about what you’ve been through and that you’ve made it, through doubts and stress and just life in general you have made it. And if that happy place is Coastal Carolina like it is for me, then know that Coastal will always be here to welcome you back mentally, physically, and spiritually. And like that teal [acceptance] envelope said, Coastal Carolina will always be ready to CCU soon.”

The University recognized four retiring faculty members for their teaching, research, and community service during the weekend’s exercises. Taylor Damonte, professor of hospitality, resort, and tourism management in the E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business; Sharon Gilman, professor of biology in the Gupta College of Science; and Brian Nance, professor of history in the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts, were honored with distinguished professor emeritus status. Craig Gilman, associate professor of marine science in the Gupta College of Science, was honored with emeritus professor status.

Twenty-one students received the President’s Award for Academic Achievement, which recognizes graduates with the highest cumulative grade point averages. The award recipients all have perfect 4.0 GPAs, graduating summa cum laude.

Degrees were conferred en masse during Friday morning’s ceremony. Each of CCU’s academic colleges held individual ceremonies throughout the weekend, where graduates’ names were called and they had the opportunity to walk across the stage and receive their diploma covers.