News & Features, September 2017

News correspondent is keynote speaker at fall convocation

Byron Pitts was the keynote speaker on Thursday, Sept. 21, as Saint Augustine’s University held its 151st Fall Opening Convocation. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, representatives of the Episcopal Church, elected officials and community leaders attended the annual ceremony, which officially opens the school year.

Pitts was introduced by Jazmin Powell, a senior majoring in media and communication who is also news editor of the Falcon Forum. Powell told the audience about Pitt’s impressive professional achievements. The ABC News correspondent is a multiple Emmy award-winning journalist and has more than 20 years’ experience including co-anchor of the “Nightline” news show and playing key roles in coverage of both the Republican and Democratic national conventions.

President Everett B. Ward noted that Pitts also has connections to the SAU community through friendship with Ward’s own family.

Pitts started his speech by asking students how they are doing. Then he told the audience that only about three in 10 Americans, two in 10 African Americans and one in 10 people worldwide have a college education.

“You are living a dream. …From this day going forward, when someone asks you how you are doing, you should say, I’m living a dream.’ ” Pitts then asked the students again how they are doing, and they responded in unison, “I’m living a dream.”

Pitts told the students to be persistent in finishing their education, and he recalled his own experiences. He said his development was so slow that some thought he had a mental disability. A college professor once advised him to drop out of college.

But a mentor persuaded him to stay in college, and fellow students gave him help such as teaching him words to increase his vocabulary, Pitts recalled. He told students they all have a responsibility to help their fellow students succeed.

The ceremony included rousing musical performances by the Saint Augustine’s University Choir Chamber Winds and the Saint Augustine’s University Choir. It ended with the Class of 2018 leading a processional to the quad to raise a special flag commemorating the university’s 150th anniversary.

After the ceremony, Pitts went to the offices of WAUG TV and radio to talk to students and learn more about the university’s communication program.