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Connecticut: Rosalyn Durant (ESPN) & Nneka Ikem

After perhaps the most daunting part of our travel – a red-eye from LA to Connecticut – we were welcomed to ESPN by Nneka and Rosalyn, who quickly earned the “most likely to be long-lost sisters” superlative. We spent the day touring the campus, righty named as there are numerous buildings, walkways, and shuttle systems, not to mention their very own cafeteria!

As a child, Nneka loved sports. She played field hockey, basketball, and track and field. Nneka also had an independent mind. In her teenage years, she became “quite a handful” for her widowed father, who worked tirelessly at the local radio station.

To keep Nneka out of trouble, her father employed her at Radio Nigeria.At the studio, Nneka was initially responsible for transcribing BBC interviews and writing children’s programs.

After several months at the station, the Sports Producer approached Nneka and asked her to write five minutes of sports news every day. After that experience, Nneka was hooked; it was “all sports, all the time!” Now Nneka is the manager of Sports and Outside Broadcasts for the largest Radio network in the country.

Nneka wants to use her platform to educate young girls in her community and inspire them to become sports journalists. As a woman,“You have to empower yourself. You have to find the courage to rise above your challenges. And you have to bring up young ones to believe this, to have confidence to achieve their dreams. Mothers are responsible for this belief, for the education of the next generation. If you train a girl, you will have trained a nation.”

To help target poverty and issues of self-esteem, she hopes to build a basketball court at an orphanage that cares for a few of the 9.3 million orphans in Nigeria. “With basketball I could build that up in them, I could make them believe in themselves, I could tell them that if Nneka can be where she is today, all you little ones will grow up tomorrow and be like me.”

Rosalyn Durant, Vice President of ESPNU & ESPNHS, is undoubtedly a great match for Nneka. Rosalyn has extensive mentoring experiences and will be able to share ideas with Nneka about revenue generation for her Sports Broadcasting Company. Rosalyn asked for a sponge and we can safely say that Nneka is ready to soak it up and share everything she learns with the girls and women of Nigeria.