Author Barcott Delivers Message of Courage to Academic Honors Convocation

Pitt-Johnstown

posted April 03, 2017


Rye Barcott, during his keynote speech April 2, 2017, told Pitt-Johnstown's annual Academic Honors Convocation that they have an opportunity to make great things happen – not just for themselves, but for others, too.

Barcott is a social entrepreneur, veteran, and author of It Happened on the Way to WarHe is a former Marine Corps officer and cofounder of Carolina for Kibera, an acclaimed non-governmental organization that uses a unique model of participatory development to break cycles of violence and develop leaders in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya.

Rye Barcott
Rye Barcott

flickrAcademic Honors Convocation 2017 photos >

“What I hope for you as graduates – that you can make each other better, find your own path and lead lives with courage and integrity,” said Barcott, in his keynote speech to Pitt-Johnstown's annual Academic Honors Convocation, which was held at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.

Barcott related the account of a chance he took with two Kenyan natives who worked in that neighborhood – and $26 – would end up creating a nonprofit that now treats 30,000 people there annually, while working to empower thousands more. The clinic has grown into one that serves as a sustainable model for other slums across the globe. It counts the U.S. Center for Disease Control and other agencies as funding partners, he said. Barcott was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. President Obama appointed him to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board as a representative of the veteran community in 2012. 

“Let’s work together ... to make each other better every day,” Barcott said,

Pittsburgh-Johnstown President Jem Spectar said he had no doubt many of the school’s award winners will do just that.

Dozens of students were named scholars and award recipients Sunday in seven academic divisions, including business and enterprise, social sciences, education, engineering technology, humanities, nursing and health sciences and natural sciences. 

To achieve that, they showed they can succeed both inside the classroom and in the “real world” – whether it means solving problems in their communities, working as interns or volunteering.

“They’re taking on issues and problems and research ... in trying to make a difference, to do something to make the world a better place,” Spectar said.

Academic Honors Convocation recognizes the exemplary academic achievement of our students, and provides an opportunity for the students' families, donors, and members of the campus community to celebrate their success.

The event was held at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center.


The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown is marking its 90th anniversary well as the 50th year of the campus in its Richland Township location. Pitt-Johnstown was founded in 1927 and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best in the Northeast” college, by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and by Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization.” The distinctive combination of Pitt-Johnstown’s people, programs, and place results in exceptional performance in preparing students for career and professional success. Pitt-Johnstown is the regional leader, educating for success in the Real World.