Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts of Nashua Serves as Keynote Speaker at New England College Founders Day Celebration
Pitts addressed the New England College community and received an honorary degree.
On Wednesday, January 31, the New England College (NEC) community gathered in the Putnam Center for the Performing Arts in Henniker to celebrate Founders Day, an annual event that honors the vision of the College’s founders to provide higher education for servicemembers returning from World War II. Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts of Nashua served as keynote speaker and received an honorary degree.
“Twenty-one years ago, I was a high school senior who didn’t know what I wanted to do next. I joined the Army so that I would have money for college down the road,” Pitts said, “but the Army was where I learned some of the greatest lessons: how to put service before myself, how to have a team mentality, and how nothing can stop us when we coalesce around a mission that means more than each of us individually. That’s all it takes to be a leader, and anyone can do it.”
A highly decorated veteran, Pitts joined the Army in 2003, at the age of 17 under the delayed entry program. He served as a radio telephone operator for the 173rd Airborne Brigade at Camp Ederle, Italy from 2004–2009. On July 13, 2008, during Pitts’s second deployment to Afghanistan, his unit of 48 servicemembers came under attack by 200 anti-Afghan forces in Kunar Province. Pitts immediately received grenade shrapnel in his left arm and both legs but, while severely injured, returned to his position to gallantly defend his unit from enemy fire and encroachment. For his heroism, Pitts received the Medal of Honor on July 21, 2014. Pitts departed active duty in 2009.
“As a college founded for veterans, I couldn’t think of a better keynote speaker than Sergeant Ryan Pitts. He is the epitome of selfless service, teamwork, bravery, and leadership,” stated Dr. Wayne F. Lesperance, Jr., President of New England College. “It was NEC’s honor to host Sergeant Pitts and hear his story that I hope inspires everyone at NEC to give their all in their respective roles within our community.”