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Mar 28th, 2023

Dallas Mavericks CEO and ABC News Anchor Mentor HPU Students

Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, and Byron Pitts, co-anchor for ABC News’ “Nightline,” hosted workshops and seminars for students. 

HIGH POINT, N.C., March 28, 2023 – The all-star lineup of global leaders visiting High Point University’s campus this semester continued with both Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall, Sports Executive in Residence, and co-anchor for ABC News’ “Nightline” Byron Pitts, Journalist in Residence, joining forces to mentor students across campus on March 27.

Marshall and Pitts led a Q&A session with event management and hospitality management students, moderated by professors Dr. Jessica Wiitala, assistant professor of event management, and Marissa Ritter, assistant professor of hospitality management.

Both innovators agreed when it comes to hospitality in any industry, your character and how you lead will greatly impact your relationships.

“Kindness goes a long way, and that’s what I love about High Point University,” said Pitts.

In response to one of the questions asked during the session, Marshall touched on what life skills she encourages young people to cultivate.

“Communication is key,” said Marshall. “It is important to be able to look me square in the eye and have a conversation with me, and not look down at the floor when speaking. It is also important to develop the ability to listen and truly understand what someone else is saying. On the other hand, listen for what you are not hearing or understanding. So often as a leader, I find that I also must listen for what is not being said.”

Pitts recalled wisdom from his mother to answer what is most important in any industry and what steps people can take to accomplish success.

“Regardless of your industry, it’s about relationships and how you make people feel,” said Pitts. “Whenever I get to hire someone, I look at how they carry themselves. I asked my mama when I was a kid, ‘What is the key to success?’ She said, ‘Son, if you work hard, you pray hard and you treat people right, good things will come of it.’ This is the formula, I think, to success.”

Sophomore Evan Brown found what Pitts shared about being the best version of yourself as impactful advice to take forward in his career.

“One of the biggest takeaways came from Byron Pitts when he shared that he wasn’t the best in his class in high school, but look at where he is now,” said Brown, a pop culture media major from Dallas, Texas. “He helped me see that it isn’t just about where you started, but where you end up that will really impact you. This opportunity to hear from top-tier leaders is truly unique. It would be hard to leave HPU without making a connection or having an impactful moment with one of the leaders in the Access to Innovators Program.”

HPU senior Wendell Epps had the opportunity to record a podcast episode with Marshall on the Access to Innovators Podcast. He was also part of a group of students invited to network with Marshall at the Dallas Mavericks versus Charlotte Hornets basketball game on March 26 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I’ve always wanted to have this one-on-one time with Cynt Marshall, and having this opportunity to do a podcast with her was amazing,” said Epps, a sports media major from Fairfax, Virginia. “I’ve always looked up to her as an inspiration as the only woman of color leading an NBA team as the CEO, and my goal is to also be in the NBA. You do things like this and realize that it will open doors and more opportunities.”

Pitts also focused on advising students in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication with an on-camera performance workshop. Marshall lent her expertise in the sports industry by hosting a sports executive boardroom experience for senior capstone students. She also met with the Sport Management Executive Council and discussed how to approach leading and working alongside others as a team.

Cassandra Diaz, a 2019 HPU graduate and an account executive for corporate business development with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, joined Marshall for several of the events on campus. Diaz formed a strong connection with Marshall when she was a student at HPU and has kept in touch ever since.

“It’s so exciting being back at HPU, and I’m so grateful to have a reunion with Cynt,” said Diaz. “Seeing her reminds me of when I was a student receiving advice and mentorship from her. The greatest piece of advice that she gave me is to be yourself, to show gratitude and to show kindness everywhere you go. It’s really rewarding to come back and share the few years of insight that I’ve gained from my experiences so far.”

Marshall and Pitts are one of many global leaders that comprise the Access to Innovators Program at HPU.