PLYMOUTH — Former Olympic skier Penny Pitou and former Governor John Lynch have been honored by Plymouth State University at the institution’s Fall Convocation ceremony on Tuesday.
Convocation is the assembly of students, staff, and faculty observing the formal start of the academic year. N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, Plymouth Selectboard Chair Valerie Scarborough, PSU Student Body President Kayla Grimes, and PSU President Sara Jayne Steen welcomed the assembly, which included trustees, friends, alumni, faculty and staff, and especially the nearly one thousand first-year students comprising the Class of 2017.
Governor Hassan and PSU Alumni Association President Amy Begg, ’97, presented Governor Lynch with the Robert Frost Contemporary American Award, named in memory of America’s late poet laureate, Robert Frost, who taught at Plymouth Normal School early in the 20th century. The PSU Alumni Association created the award, given only occasionally, to provide special recognition of those individuals whose extraordinary service to the state and nation best exemplifies Robert Frost’s values of individuality, hard work, humanitarianism, and devotion to the country “North of Boston.”
Former Olympic ski racer and Lakes Region businesswoman Penny Pitou received the Granite State Award, which is bestowed on citizens, agencies, corporations, or foundations of the State of New Hampshire whose achievements have made significant contributions. Pitou was a trailblazer in women’s skiing, and a leader in New Hampshire philanthropy as well.
In 1960 she became the first American skier to win a medal in the Olympic downhill event, capturing two silvers. Following her competitive career, this Gilford native founded several ski schools in New England and has been instrumental in ski development ever since. Pitou is a successful entrepreneur who owns a travel agency in Laconia and serves on many boards and organizations supporting women. Steen noted Pitou’s impressive accomplishments have been an inspiration to New Hampshire residents for decades.
“Penny Pitou has never seen barriers, only problems to be solved, and then she addressed them,” Steen said. “And she has been a role model in seeing that those who followed her would have the opportunities, whether through good coaching or support organizations or scholarships, to enable them to succeed.”
“I found it was important to find a passion in my life, because if I didn’t find it, someone would find it for me,” Pitou said. “You have to stay true to yourself …it takes dedication, perseverance and a lot of hard work.”