2010 Commencement Stories from the University of Houston

While the estimated 4,550 University of Houston students graduating this year will be the primary focus, the university's 2010 spring Commencement ceremonies being held on campus this weekend feature a "who's who" of notable political figures, athletes, celebrities and philanthropists. As you pursue graduation stories, please consider these from the University of Houston.  If you need assistance, contact Marisa Ramirez at (713) 743-8152.  A list of speakers also is included.   

A Large Honor: Forgoing his Large Band for a morning, Texas singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett will don cap-and-gown regalia to receive an honorary doctorate of letters from the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture.  Lovett has a long-standing friendship with the college and its faculty.  He'll receive the honor from Dean Patricia Oliver during commencement ceremonies 9-11 a.m. Saturday, May 15 at Hofheinz Pavilion.  For assistance with this story contact Marisa Ramirez at 713-743-8152 or mrcannon@uh.edu.  

Validating Determination: Corey Henderson was 20 years old when he lost his hearing.  He lived out of his car and traveled across the country. But when he enrolled at the University of Houston, he fell in love with learning.  Now 37, Corey will be the valedictorian of his class when he graduates with a 4.0 grade point average and a bachelor of science degree in physics and math.  Reach Corey at corey.allen@cajkhenderson.com (Commencement 9-11 a.m., Saturday, May 15 at Hofheinz Pavilion). 

Presidential Honors: The University of Houston President's Medallion, the highest honor given to students, faculty, staff and friends of the UH community, will be bestowed on three important and inspiring friends.  UH President Renu Khator will honor:

  • Olympic gold medalist and former UH student Carl Lewis during ceremonies 2 - 4 p.m., Friday, May 14 at Hofheinz Pavilion
  • Wilhelmina Daisy Cullen Robertson Smith, daughter of Houston philanthropist, oilman and original UH benefactor Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen, 6 - 8 p.m., Friday, May 14 at Hofheinz Pavilion
  • The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, long-standing supporter of education and youth, 9 - 11 a.m., Friday, May 14 at Hofheinz Pavilion

Honorary Degree: John Hofmeister, former president of Houston-based Shell Oil and the past director of the Greater Houston Partnership will receive an honorary doctorate of letters during commencement ceremonies from 9 - 11 a.m. Saturday, May 15 at Hofheinz Pavilion.  Hofmeister currently heads the not-for-profit Citizens for Affordable Energy, a public policy education firm, which promotes sound U.S. energy security solutions for the nation.    

Humanitarian Award: Former Houston Mayor Bill White, who earned national recognition in the wake of Hurricane Katrina by mobilizing more than 100,000 Houstonians in the public, private, business and faith-based communities to help evacuees rebuild their lives, will receive a Humanitarian Award, as voted on by the Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) graduating class. White will attend the GCSW ceremony from 1-3 p.m., Friday in Cullen Performance Hall. 

Drive My Car:  David Ashley White, director of the Moores School of Music, has a special surprise for one of the top three graduates of the school-a new car.  He will present the lucky graduate with a Smart Car, built by Mercedes, at a pre-graduation reception from 8-8:30 p.m., Thursday, May 13.  The car was purchased by John Moores at the Moores Society's Annual Dinner Concert Auction and donated by him with the understanding that it would be given to a deserving student.  For assistance with this story, contact Mike Emery at 713-743-8186 or memery@central.uh.edu 

Flying Colors: Eight UH ROTC cadets from Detachment 003 will be commissioned as the newest second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force during a ceremony at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 16 at the UH M.D. Anderson Library, in the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion.  The ceremony will consist of the Oath of Service, the ceremonial pinning of the second lieutenant rank insignia and comments by Col. Phil Bossert, USAF, detachment commander of the Air Force ROTC program. For assistance with this story, contact Col. Phil Bossert at 713-743-4932 or pbossert@uh.edu 

Lessons from a Future Teacher: Jackie Ekeoba wanted nothing to stand in the way of her dream of being a teacher: not a lack of money (she worked in an office by day and a grocery store overnight, while carrying a full load of classes); not a lack of a vehicle (she relied on public transportation, even if it meant riding in the dark, early morning hours).  Her hard work and perseverance soon will pay off as she crosses the stage to receive her biology degree, on her way to receiving teacher certification.  Reach Jackie at 832-230-7010 or jnekeoba@gmail.com (Commencement 9-11 a.m., Saturday, May 15 at Hofheinz Pavilion). 

It's the Journey: Satish Gore left behind friends, family, an architecture career and a whole life in Mumbai to come to UH for graduate school.  His immediate challenges were language and culture, followed soon by Hurricane Ike.  But he would not be deterred from his goal. Through volunteer and mentoring opportunities, Satish gained new friends and new confidence.  He says his journey wasn't smooth, but was made easier through great people.  He'll graduate with a master's degree in architecture.  Reach Satish at 281-450-5567 or satish_gore2@rediffmail.com  (Commencement 9-11 a.m., Saturday, May 15 at Hofheinz Pavilion). 

They're No. 1: Graduates of the UH biotechnology program have extra reason to celebrate.  They are the first graduates of the interdisciplinary program.  Funded by a generous grant from the Texas Workforce Commission and the National Science Foundation, the program combines genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, embryology and cell biology with technical disciplines like chemical engineering, information technology, and robotics.  Reach Associate Professor Rupa Iyer at 713-743-0099 or riyer@uh.edu (Commencement 2-4 p.m., Friday, May 14 at Hofheinz Pavilion).  

The Play's the Thing: When Chris Egging graduates, he'll be taking his new degree on the road. The soon-to-be-graduate of the UH School of Theatre will join the National Players in a cross-country tour with the play, A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Egging will play the role of Oberon, the fairy king of Shakespeare's comedy.  Reach Chris through Mike Emery at 713-743-8186 or memery@central.uh.edu (Commencement 9-11a, Friday, May 14 at Hofheinz Pavilion). 


  • Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, UH Law Center, noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, May 16 at Hofheinz Pavilion
  • Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, College of Pharmacy, 9 to 11 a.m., Saturday, May 15 at Cullen Performance Hall
  • Billie Tsien, noted New York architect, College of Architecture Awards and Recognition Ceremony, 1 p.m., Saturday, May 15 in the atrium of the college
  • Irvin Borish, the "father of modern optometry," College of Optometry, 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 15 at Cullen Performance Hall
  • Sandra Lopez, clinical associate professor, Graduate College of Social Work,1 to 3 p.m., Friday, May 14 at Cullen Performance Hall 

For a complete list of commencement dates, times and locations, visit http://www.uh.edu/commencement/commencement-schedule/index.php