By MORGAN ROY
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Imagine hiking all 48 of the 4,000-foot mountains of New Hampshire.  Now imagine doing it completely blind in the snow. That accomplishment is just one of many Randy Pierce used to explain how to overcome adversity in his speech at the University of New Hampshire on Tuesday night.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right,” Pierce said.
The electrical engineer and UNH alumnus was introduced in MUB Theater 1 by the UNH Environmental Water and Resources Institute club in front of a crowd of approximately 60 students.  The speech was organized to inspire students to reach their peak potential through problem solving and perseverance.
“I thought it was really inspiring,” freshman Alex Claire said.  “It put my struggles into perspective.”
Pierce was born and raised in New Hampshire. He unexpectedly lost his vision due to a neurological disease at the age of 22.  After becoming visually disabled, Pierce said that by setting goals and utilizing problem solving he was able to conquer challenges in his life and stay active about things he was passionate about. He has given speeches to over 38,000 students, and one TED talk.
“We don’t plan to fail, we fail to plan,” Pierce said.
In 2010, Pierce, with his guide dog Quin, set a goal to be the first blind hiker to climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000 footers in a span of over 10 years.  This goal was shattered in 2012 when he successfully hiked all 48 peaks in a single winter season.
Students laughed when Pierce asked the crowd to raise their hands if they never have had to face a challenge in their lifetime.  He went on to talk about how life is full of challenges, what allows you to become successful and how you overcome these challenges.
Pierce talked about how the community of Boston came together to help each other in a time of tragedy after the Boston Marathon bombing.  He said the idea of community is essential to overcoming adversity.
“When people don’t learn to come together to resolve challenges and differences in helping productive ways, some horrific things can happen,” Pierce said. “Surround yourself with a helping community and you can solve any problem.”
EWRI ended the speech by donating $250 to Pierce’s 2020 Vision Quest organization.
“I thought his speech was wonderful,” said Amanda Chisholm, an outdoor education major.  “The part about recognizing and overcoming adversity as a community really spoke to me.”
“Know where to ask for help,” Max Kenney, president of the EWRI club said.  “Who you ask effects the outcome.”

Executive Editor