A Drive-by Celebration for UHD Teacher Graduates
By Sheryl E. Taylor
The original plan was to meet on April 30 at a local restaurant to celebrate graduating seniors who are members of UHD-Northwest’s Be A Teacher Club.
“We were going to eat queso and tacos, drink high-calorie frozen libations, play silly games, and distribute the Club’s oh-so-pretty purple and white cords,” said Dr. Diane Miller, Assistant Professor of Literacy, UHD-NW’s Department of Urban Education. “We should have reflected upon busy semesters, laughed too loud, pushed back a few tears, and made promises to stay in touch. But, no. Nothing this semester is as it should have been. Twice a year, I look forward to reconnecting with students one more official time to lean in for selfies, learn about job prospects, and celebrate their awe-inspiring accomplishments.”
So, Miller decided to not let the circumstances of everyone’s new-normal diminish her students’ journey. She created a Sign-Up Genius invite for students to schedule porch pick-ups for their regalia cords. For two days, Miller (dressed in UHD gear or her own graduation gown according to the student’s choice) greeted students outside her home in five-minute increments to pick up their cords while adhering to social distancing and mask-wearing rules. Her husband, who served as photographer, captured each student moment with Miller—all of the pictures were shared on the club’s active Facebook page.
The inclusion of multi-colored cords with graduation regalia carries much traditional significance. In addition to the honors cords that indicate academic achievements, such as magna cum laude, many UHD societies and clubs choose to recognize their actively involved members with honor cords as well. For the UHD-NW Be a Teacher Club, the cords represent active membership for two consecutive, long semesters. Active membership includes consistent meeting attendance, regular volunteer participation, and occasional social events.
According to Miller, graduates wear their cords with pride, as those braided strands represent the accomplishments, contributions and identities of their college careers.
“When I first began facilitating the Club, I was surprised at how the students place a significant amount of emphasis on the cords to represent their achievements and involvements,” said Miller. “Even though I now realize how important these cords are to students, I was still surprised at the emotions associated with our low-fuss cord pick-up appointments. There were tears on both sides of the cords!”
The cord distribution was followed by a virtual graduation ceremony hosted by the Department of Urban Education on Saturday, May 30, which was streamed live via Zoom and Facebook for UHD faculty and staff to join the celebration.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.