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D’Ante Smith’s Journey from the Football Field to ESPN

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D'Ante Smith

From a young age, D’Ante Smith (SOC/MA ‘14) took on the role of being a model figure in his family. The oldest in his generation, Smith played football in high school and dreamed of playing in college as a first-generation student. Lincoln University, in Chester County, Penn. offered him an academic and athletic scholarship to further his dreams and education. “Lincoln University was just an hour away from Prince George’s County where my family was,” he said. “Since I am a very family-oriented man, it meant they could come to my games.” 

While attending Lincoln, Smith excelled in sports and his academics but was unable to participate in internships due to the time commitment of football. After graduation, he began looking for a school close to Prince George’s County, so he could be closer to his loved ones. Smith was seeking an advanced degree in journalism when he applied to Temple University, American University (AU), and Howard University. Ultimately, he was accepted into all three graduate programs, but chose AU for graduate school. He said his decision to come to AU School of Communication (SOC), in part, was due to the ads in Metro stations and on buses around the city that he saw touting AU’s strengths. Due to his inability to hold internships during his undergraduate experience, he wanted a university that would encourage his future job placement. “I like that American University stressed that graduates were working immediately after graduation from the program,” he exclaimed. “It really is the truth. I would say 15/20 of my class members worked in the industry post-graduation.” 

After receiving his own degree, Smith worked full time at Hertz in Maryland, as a high school sports freelance reporter for the Capital Gazette; a sideline reporter for WBGR Sports Network, and an editor/board operator for WNAV 1340AM. “Although things didn’t work out immediately after I graduated, I still grinded,” he said. 

When Smith found himself as a basketball director for approximately six months, he realized that he wasn’t where he pictured himself to be. In 2016 Smith attended the National Association of Black Journalists conference in Washington, DC. This experience he described as an “utopia for journalists of color.” Various media outlets were hiring on the spot for attendees who could work hard and deliver at high levels. ESPN offered Smith an interview right then and there, and a few days later, offered him a job. Smith began working for ESPN as a Production Assistant. His emphasis was on TV, radio and social media. He is now a Social Media/Digital Media Associate who works heavily with their Snapchat platform.