Comedian, TV host returns to share experiences, advice

Sheryl Underwood, 1987 UIC graduate and host of "The Talk" on CBS.

“When you’re a graduate of UIC, great things can happen in your life,” says comedian Sheryl Underwood, a 1987 alumna. Photo: Art Streiber © 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc.


Sheryl Underwood, UIC alumna and host of “The Talk”
1-2 p.m. Sept. 9, Illinois Room, Student Center East
Tweet questions in advance #goUIC @sherylunderwood


Sheryl Underwood, comedian and host of CBS daytime show “The Talk,” will visit campus Wednesday to talk with students about making the most of their college experience.

Her talk, 1 to 2 p.m. in the Illinois Room, Student Center East, is open to the UIC community.

Underwood, a 1987 alumna in communication and theatre, has a powerful message to share with UIC students. “I want students to see that when you’re a graduate of UIC, great things can happen in your life,” she said.

Underwood said the experiences she had at UIC led to her career in the entertainment industry. “It was really here that I learned what I could be,” she said.

In her courses in subjects such as Latin, argumentation and persuasion, and the relationships she formed with peers, professors and counselors, Underwood said she learned to use humor to highlight her strengths. Her internships, including one with Oprah Winfrey on WLS-TV, helped shape her love of TV.

In her discussion Wednesday, she wants to talk with those who haven’t yet found their path. “I want students to talk about the elation of uncertainty,” she said. “If you don’t really know what you want to do, you should be happy that you don’t know.”

Underwood has found success outside the entertainment industry, too. A member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority since 1990, she served as its 23rd international president in 2008. She convened the sorority’s 2012 National Grand Boulé convention in Chicago, the first time the event was held here since 1968.

She is founder and CEO of Pack Rat Productions and the Pack Rat Foundation for Education, supporting historically black colleges and students in continuing education. Her goal was to start a company that reflects what she learned in TV production, and she wants to help others access the resources they need.

Underwood has another message to discuss Wednesday. She believes students should value this time in their lives. She wants them to know college isn’t only about academic achievement.

“This is a fun time in your life in one of the greatest cities,” she said. “College is not all work. It’s fun, and you build some of your most cherished memories in college.”

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