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Thursday, November 30, 2023


Emmy-winning journalist to give lecture at UH


Pitt’s book, “Step Out on Nothing,” was chosen as the inaugural book for the Provost’s Summer Reading Program. Photo courtesy of Roanoke College.

Emmy award-winning journalist Byron Pitts will share the story of his transformation from a functionally-illiterate 12-year-old boy to the chief national correspondent for the ABC Evening News with UH students at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15 in Cullen Performance Hall. The event is open to the public.

“The opportunity to hear a person who has had such tremendous personal success, who has been a leading journalist on one of the most respected news broadcasts in television, who had so many obstacles to overcome, will be inspirational,” said Undergraduate Studies Associate Dean Sarah Fishman.

Pitts grew up in Baltimore, Md. and was diagnosed as functionally illiterate at the age of 12. Pitts overcame his speech impediment and worked his way up to become a successful global journalist, working as a correspondent for 60 Minutes and currently as the chief national correspondent for CBS. He has earned four regional and two national Emmy Awards. He has covered national news for 15 years and chronicled the events of the war in Afghanistan, the death of Nelson Mandela and Hurricane Katrina.

“His experiences show how he overcame great challenges to reach the pinnacle of success for a broadcast journalist,” said Jack J. Valenti School of Communication Director Beth Olson. “While his story is obviously specific to him, there are also some universal themes and strategies for success undergraduates may use.”

Pitts’ book “Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges” was chosen for the 2014 Provost Summer Reading Program, “the common book experience.”  More than 1,200 first-year students participated in faculty-led discussion sessions. Part of the program includes an essay contest. The top ten essayists will have lunch with Pitts before his lecture.

“This lecture is the culmination event of the program and while the book itself is a compelling account, having its author present his story personally, face-to-face with our students, will hopefully leave them with a lasting memory and the knowledge they too can overcome any obstacles in their path to graduation, a successful career, and any other challenges they might face,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Paula Myrick Short.

CLASS Dean John Roberts, who serves as chairman on the Provost Committee that selected Pitts’ book for the program, said he is looking forward to Pitts sharing his story with the UH community.

“The selection committee felt that many of our students would be able to identify with his struggles and their impact on his academic success early on,” Roberts said. “It is a story of overcoming personal and social challenges and struggles, taking risks, finding mentors and role models, discovering sources of faith and inspiration, finding success, and in the end, learning to appreciate the role that all of these things play in making an individual the person that he or she eventually becomes.”

After his lecture, Pitts will sign copies of his book for students until 4 p.m.

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