Saint Augustine’s University has established a “scholar-in-residence” program with nationally known TV journalist Byron Pitts. Mr. Pitts made his first visit to the school as part of that program, on Monday, March 12.
Mr. Pitts took the time to share both his personal and professional experiences in a session at the Seby Jones Art Gallery that lasted more than two hours.
It was actually Mr. Pitts’ second visit to SAU. He made his first visit on Sept. 21, 2017, at the Fall Convocation, which took place in the Julia Chester Emery Gymnasium.
Mr. Pitts will be joining the university as a visiting lecturer. He will have an office in the offices of WAUG in the Seby Jones Building. The details of when he will come to campus and exactly what topics he will cover in each visit are still being worked out, but he told students Monday that he plans to visit SAU four times each year.
Mr. Pitts also encouraged students to contact him for help and advice, and he gave out his cell phone number and email address. Journalism is a “subjective business” where contacts are important, he explained.
During his appearance on March 12 he shed light on the importance of having a good attitude, working hard, having a concrete vision, a plan and a goal.
“I want each of you to be great in your profession,” he said. “ “Not mediocre, not just have a job, but be great.”
Mr. Pitts is seen throughout the nation as co-anchor of ABC News’ “Nightline.” He is also a former chief national correspondent for CBS Evening News and a contributor to 60 Minutes, the news program seen throughout the U.S. on Sunday evening.
He told students they can achieve even their wildest dreams if they have a specific plan. He stressed that everything you do should have a strategic plan leading to an end goal.
“I don’t go around helping people figure out their dreams – that’s on you,” Mr. Pitts said. “But I think I’m pretty good at helping people achieve those dreams.”
Mr. Pitts told students of his own experiences where he decided at aged 18 that he wanted to be a correspondent for 60 Minutes. He had students go around the room and state they name, their major and what they wanted to be doing professionally at age 40. Many times throughout his conversation, he asked students to say “I will be” rather than “I want to” or “I would like.” He also asked follow-up questions to make sure students’ goals were specific.
Mr. Pitts wrapped up his time with students with a Q&A session for students. He spoke with a variety of students with a focus on Media and Communications majors.
It was a busy day on campus for Mr. Pitts. After the session with students, he had lunch President Everett B. Ward and other administrators, as well as faculty from the Media and Communications Department, which is sponsoring Mr. Pitts’ scholar-in-residence program. Later, he conducted an interview with WAUG radio.
Mr. Pitts, a multiple Emmy award-winning journalist and news veteran with over 20 years’ experience, is also an accomplished author. In 2009, he published a memoir entitled “Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges” this novel chronicled his journey overcoming illiteracy and a stutter to become a journalist. “Be the one” is Mr. Pitts latest book which profiles six young adults, who overcame impossible circumstances.
His next visit is scheduled for April, though the exact date has not yet been worked out.
— Jazmin Powell