Houstonians can kick off this unprecedented school year with an inspirational virtual event featuring hometown celebrities and a national entertainer sharing stories of resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic and racial tensions. Hosted by the University of Houston College of Education, First Lecture 2020 takes place from 11 a.m. to noon, Friday, Aug. 21 via livestream. This year’s speakers are:
- Christine Ha, owner of The Blind Goat and Xin Chào restaurants in Houston. The UH alumna earned national recognition as the first legally blind contestant and winner of “MasterChef” and wrote the cookbook, “Recipes from My Home Kitchen.”
- Kam Franklin, lead singer of the award-winning Houston-based soul band The Suffers. A singer since age 5 and a songwriter since 11, Franklin also is an activist who speaks on the creative process, perseverance and empowerment for women and people of color.
- Bill Santiago, a standup comedian best known for his bilingual television specials on Comedy Central. He authored the book “Pardon My Spanglish” and has also written for The New York Times, Washington Post and Miami Herald.
“During these unprecedented times, we felt it was important to give students and the larger community a strong kickoff to the fall semester by maintaining the tradition of First Lecture but taking it virtual,” said Bob McPherson, dean of the UH College of Education. “Our incredible lineup of speakers will bring inspiration and important perspective as we continue to face the dual challenges of the pandemic and racial inequities. We want our students and fellow Houstonians to feel empowered to keep striving to positively impact the world.”
McPherson launched First Lecture in 2011 as a way to give students a memorable start to the academic year. Past speakers have included Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, author Nic Stone, singer Stephanie Rice, astronaut Bonnie Dunbar and award-winning teacher John Hunter.
WHAT: First Lecture 2020, a free virtual event hosted by the UH College of Education
WHO: Christine Ha, chef and author; Kam Franklin, singer, songwriter and activist; and Bill Santiago, standup comedian and author.
WHEN: 11 a.m. – noon, Friday, Aug. 21; you may join the livestream starting at 10:45 a.m. Click here to RSVP.
MEDIA CONTACT: To schedule interviews with speakers, please contact Sara Tubbs at 713.743.4248 or firstname.lastname@example.org.