Katy Nesbitt announced as 2023 undergraduate commencement speaker


Image via PittWire

Katy Nesbitt, Pitt alum and first American woman to referee at the men’s World Cup, is this year’s undergraduate commencement speaker.

By Ryleigh Lord, Assistant News Editor

Pitt announced Thursday that Katy Nesbitt, who made history as the first American woman to referee at the men’s World Cup, will deliver Pitt’s 2023 undergraduate commencement speech. 

Nesbitt graduated from the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences with a doctorate in chemistry in 2015 after researching analytical methods for chemical measurements of the brain, all while simultaneously refereeing for the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Nesbitt was the first woman to become a Major League Soccer assistant referee of the year in 2020 and the first American woman to referee at a men’s World Cup. She was one of six women chosen to referee at the 2022 Qatar World Cup after starting her international career at the 2019 women’s World Cup in France. 

Before she left academia to work full-time as a referee, Nesbitt worked as an assistant professor of chemistry at Towson University. She cited multiple similarities between her scientific work and her experience refereeing. 

“In science, it often doesn’t work out when you’re studying something — trying to discover something new or have a new hypothesis,” Nesbitt said. “Refereeing is also not the easiest job. You’re often hated by half the fans and not well-liked by some of the players, so finding a way to work through these struggles and bounce back is a skill that works well in both fields.” 

The 2023 undergraduate commencement will take place in the Petersen Events Center at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 30th.