Journalist to address Clark College graduates

Commencement Thursday features ABC correspondent Pitts

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter



If you go

What: 78th Clark College commencement.

When: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday; parking and seating open at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Sleep Country Amphitheater, 17200 N.E. Delfel Road.

Cost: Free, public event. No tickets required. Parking is free.

Details: Covered, outdoor venue; umbrellas are not allowed. Concessions will be available. Accommodations for deaf and hearing-impaired guests available. Wheelchair service provided to guests who need assistance. Call 360-992-2314 for ADA accommodations.

On Thursday night, members of Clark College’s 78th graduating class will cross the stage at Sleep Country Amphitheater to receive their diplomas and to begin a new chapter in their lives. There is no cost to attend this public event. Parking is free.

The commencement speaker is Byron Pitts, who overcame a childhood marked by illiteracy and poverty to become an award-winning television journalist and author.

Pitts originally was scheduled to speak at Clark’s 2013 commencement ceremony but had to decline to cover the illness of South African leader Nelson Mandela.

Raised in poverty, Pitts suffered from a debilitating stutter and functional illiteracy. He didn’t learn to read and write until he was a teenager. He entered a field, broadcast journalism, that requires strong written and oral communication skills. Today, Pitts is chief national correspondent for “ABC Evening News.”

Pitts is known for exceptional storytelling. As an embedded reporter covering the war in Iraq, he was recognized for his work under fire. He was CBS’ lead correspondent at ground zero immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Pitts has also covered the war in Afghanistan, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the military buildup in Kuwait and the refugee crisis in Kosovo. He is also the author of a memoir, “Step Out on Nothing: How Family and Faith Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges.”