Meet Ryan Pitts, 2015 commencement speaker
By Andrew Yourell, Staff Writer
The University of New Hampshire announced the commencement speaker for the Class of 2015 at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant and 2013 UNH alumnus Ryan Pitts will deliver the speech at graduation on May 16.
Sergeant Pitts is the ninth living recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor. Pitts was awarded the medal for his role in the Battle of Wanat, in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province on July 13, 2008.
According to the citation read by President Obama, Sergeant Pitts “distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Forward Observer…”
Sergeant Pitts was severely wounded by anti-Afghan forces, but used fragmentation grenades to hold the enemy off and called in radio support that allowed indirect fire to protect the rest of his unit.
Sergeant Pitts was born in Lowell in 1985, but his family moved to Mont Vernon, NH, and he attended Amherst’s Souhegan High School. After his medical discharge from the Army in 2009, Sergeant Pitts began attending UNH-Manchester’s business program and graduated summa cum laude in 2013 with a near-perfect GPA.
Among his many military honors, Sergeant Pitts was named a UNH Presidential Scholar, earned the Brennan Award for character, perseverance and academic excellence, a UNH Award of Excellence, and several student leadership prizes. He is now a member of the UNH Alumni Association advisory board.