By Erianne Lewis | Staff Writer
The Academy for Leadership Development concluded its Academy Speaker Series for this semester with a session Thursday night led by Baylor graduate Derwin Graham who currently works on the ESPN Films production team for 30 for 30.
Graham, who graduated in 2015 with a B.A. in journalism, public relations, and new media and a film and digital media minor, most recently worked on the docuseries, “The Last Dance,” which won an Emmy.
Graham spoke about what drove him to go to Baylor, citing his father as a major inspiration in his decision.
“Baylor has been in my blood since my father,” Graham said. “My father was a student-athlete back in the 80s. He was at Baylor from 1982-1985, he ran track and field. He competed in the 400s, the 800s and the 4×400 meter relay, where they coincidently won Baylor’s first national championship, when they won in 1985 for the 400-meter relay. They set the national record at the time.”
Graham was also a student-athlete during his time at Baylor, and he spoke honestly about initially not focusing on school as much as he should have. Graham admitted to not getting as involved in his studies until after he declared his major, originally coming to Baylor as undecided.
Graham said Carol Perry, one of his professors during his time at Baylor, had a major impact on him because she saw the leadership potential he had, even if he didn’t want to acknowledge at the time.
“That was a real booster for me just mentally and in my craft. She really opened my eyes to my capabilities. For that, I’m forever grateful to her and Baylor University. She ended up being one of the main reasons I am sitting here, working at ESPN today,” Graham said.
Graham said he is thankful for the pressure his professors at Baylor put on him during his undergraduate because it made the transition to the professional world smoother.
“[Applying for] the ESPN internship and not getting that call back, but then getting that phone call to be able to have a full-time job at ESPN is one of those things where God was like, ‘Hey not now, I have something bigger in store for you,’” Graham said. “It was one of those things where I was put through the fire so much in undergrad that by the time I got into that professional setting at ESPN, it became easy.”
Dr. Mecia Lockwood, assistant director for leadership development, wrote in an email that she contacted Mr. Graham to speak at the event because he is a Baylor alumnus and has made such great accomplishments since graduating.
“I contacted Derwin because I attended Baylor with him and have seen the success he has had in the past few years. I was excited about the opportunity to engage Baylor students with another impactful voice who was in their position just 6 years ago,” Lockwood said.
Lockwood said she hopes students take away from Graham’s story the importance of continuing to pursue your passion despite the rocky path you may endure.
“I hope they see that following their passion and achieving success, however they define it, is very possible. Derwin spoke about going through rejection and forcing himself to remember that the opportunity wasn’t meant for him and God’s plan was coming,” Lockwood said. “The Baylor community was critical in his journey, from a program that challenged him, to mentors who pushed and inspired him, to peers who helped him get a foot in the door – he urged students to talk to everybody and never underestimate the role someone can play in your story.”