Byron Pitts Challenges Jackson State Graduates to Change the World

Byron Pitts at addresses students at Jackson State University's undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 3, 2014.
ABC News anchor and chief correspondent Byron Pitts.

ABC News anchor and chief correspondent Byron Pitts challenged Jackson State University graduates during JSU’s undergraduate commencement ceremony May 3 to use their diplomas as an opportunity to change the world.

“If your dreams only include you, then your dreams aren’t big enough,” he told the crowd at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I encourage you to dream boldly as you go along in life.”

During his address, Pitts reminded the new graduates that JSU alums have been making a difference in the world since Jackson State’s founding in 1877.

“Changing the world is difficult, but it’s not new to graduates of Jackson State,” he said. “That’s who we are.”

Pitts cited the achievements of history-making alums including Robert Clark Jr., the first African American elected to the Mississippi State Legislature since Reconstruction, former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and NFL Hall of Famer Walter Payton.

“Each of you has been blessed to walk on sacred ground,” Pitts said.

Pitts was named ABC news anchor and chief national correspondent in April 2013. He covers national news stories and in-depth features for the network, reporting for all broadcasts and platforms including “Good Morning America,” “World News with Diane Sawyer,” “Nightline,” “This Week” and “20/20.” Pitts also reports for all ABC News digital properties, including

Byron Pitts is a multiple Emmy award-winning journalist known for his thoughtful storytelling, on-the-ground reporting and in-depth interviews. A news veteran with over 20 years of experience, Pitts has traveled around the world to cover some of the biggest news stories of our time from the Florida presidential recount to the tsunami in Indonesia and the refugee crisis in Kosovo. Less than 24 hours at ABC News, Byron Pitts participated in live special coverage of the Boston marathon bombing investigation, including the daylong manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers that virtually shut down the city

Jackson State University's graduating class of 2014 Celebrate during commencement ceremony May 3, 2014.
Jackson State University’s Graduating Class of 2014.

The spring 2014 class includes more than 700 undergraduates and more than 300 graduate students. Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice president of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement for Nielsen, gave the keynote address at JSU’s graduate commencement ceremony May 2 at the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center.Pearson-McNeil used her experiences to caution the graduates that finding a place in the corporate world would not be easy.

“I want you to know who you are before you get the job,” she said. “Corporate America can suck the authenticity right out of you. That won’t happen to you, because you are going to know who you are before you start your next journey.”

Pearson-McNeil is responsible for increasing the Nielsen’s brand awareness among African-American, Asian-American and Hispanic non-profit organizations, leaders and consumers – elevating their understanding of Nielsen’s measurement services to assist in improving the overall probability of their inclusion in Nielsen’s panels, studies and surveys.

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