By Dixie Reid
Lisa Leslie, former professional basketball player and fashion model, is the keynote speaker for Sacramento State’s 2019 Student Academic Success Day. Her topic is “Brave, Bold, and Brilliant,” which also is the day’s theme.
Leslie will deliver a motivational talk during the lunchtime session, at noon Monday, Sept. 23, in the University Ballroom.
Anyone wishing to attend Leslie's talk is asked to RSVP online.
“Having Lisa Leslie for our keynote will provide a platform for dialogue, engagement, and connection, aimed to instill courage and to inspire the campus community,” said Marcellene Watson-Derbigny, associate vice president for Student Retention and Academic Success.
The 6-foot-5 Leslie was a standout player at the University of Southern California before being drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks, during the 1997 inaugural season of the Women’s Professional Basketball Association (WNBA).
She was named the league's Most Valuable Player three times, an All-Star in eight of her 12 WNBA seasons, and also helped lead Team USA to four Olympic gold medals.
Leslie also was the first player to slam dunk in a WNBA game. Her accomplishments led to her 2015 induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, one of just 20 women so honored.
Among Leslie’s other accomplishments was launching a modeling career, writing the memoir Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You, working as a TV sports commentator, and returning to the Sparks as a team owner.
She earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix, and, in 2012, opened the Lisa Leslie Basketball and Leadership Academy, in Los Angeles.
Last summer, she coached the Triplets, of the BIG3 professional league, and was named Coach of the Year.
She and her husband, a commercial pilot, have two children.
Student Academic Success Day supports Sacramento State’s objective of promoting student achievement and closing the degree-attainment gap.
The University is making notable headway in improving graduation rates: 20.8 percent of the 2019 graduates will have completed their course work in four years, which is up 12 percentage points – a 130 percent gain – from 2016.
“Student Academic Success Day exposes students to campus resources and services that will instill in them the passion for academic, career and life success,” said Watson-Derbigny. “This signature event also enables students to hear from people who are highly successful, to inspire them to fulfill their dream of a college education.”
In addition to Leslie, the day-long event will feature a talk by Jorge A. Aguilar, superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District. His topic is “Instilling Bravery in the Scholarly Experience.”
Aguilar will participate in the Closing the Achievement Gap Summit, 10-10:45 a.m. in the University Union, Redwood Room.
The "Brave, Bold, and Brilliant" workshop sessions, which run 11-11:50 a.m. in various locations in the Union, will feature experts discussing finances, bravery, valuing the inner self, and “insuring your life.”
Following Leslie’s talk and the luncheon, a festival and community resource fair will get underway in Serna Plaza.