Class of 2020 honored with virtual graduation celebration


Stephen Greenwell
Michelle Gale.
Michelle Gale.
Samar Eldeib.
Samar Eldeib.

The fortitude of the Cullen College of Engineering's Class of 2020 was proudly celebrated by the university community on May 7, with a 90-minute virtual graduation celebration, featuring remarks from University of Houston leadership, a commencement speaker and most importantly, the graduating students.

The celebration can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube. Dean Joseph Tedesco started the celebration by praising the graduating class for dealing with the real world conditions beyond its control.

“I am especially proud of the graduating class of 2020,” he said. “You are certainly the strongest engineering graduates ever in the Cullen College of Engineering. Unlike those who have come before you, you have had to keep up with your studies through an unprecedented global pandemic, and you have done so with grace, integrity and perseverance, and you have achieved your goal – the receipt of an engineering degree.”

Tedesco added that the celebration was also an opportunity to herald the work done by the college's professors.

“In addition to being excellent scholars, they are devoted to our students and commit their best talent and energies to the teaching and learning processes, especially in today's rapidly changing world of virtual and remote learning,” he said.

The faculty of the Cullen College of Engineering provided graduates with shout-outs and messages of celebration at several points during the virtual presentation. The celebration featured more than 30 minutes of messages from current students, faculty and alumni.

University of Houston President Renu Khator, Ph.D., also offered her congratulations via a recorded video.

“We are so proud of you,” she said. “Proud of all of your accomplishments, proud of your journey here.”

CenterPoint Senior Vice President of Electric Operations Kenny Mercado, a member of the class of 1985 with an electrical engineering degree and the class of 1991 with an industrial engineering management degree, served as graduation speaker.

Mercado stressed that while the pandemic had significantly altered the world, the skills they gained at UH would provide them with the ability to make an impact.

“The jobs of tomorrow will have a little different taste to them, than there was in the past, and engineering jobs are going to be prosperous and plenty as you move into your future,” he said. “This is now your opportunity, and I really want you to think about this, this is your opportunity to have genuine purpose, and to establish your career and develop your skills, and to make a real difference in our world for your career, your family, and your friends.”

As with any graduation celebration, the virtual one culminated with a reading of the graduates. However, before the Bachelor of Science degree recipients were read, there was one final test to pass – A call and response of, “Who's house? Coogs House!” The ceremony concluded with a rendition of the UH alma mater.

As of mid-May, more than 2,000 people have watched the celebration between YouTube and UH platforms. The official commencement ceremony has been postponed and will be rescheduled for sometime later this year. Please check the university's official commencement website for updates.

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