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Journalist Soledad O’Brien to Serve as UHD Commencement Speaker on May 15

Broadcaster to Inspire Graduates During Virtual Ceremony


By Mike Emery

Soledad O'Brien

Award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien has covered individuals and events that have left indelible imprints on the world as we know it. Soon, she will lend her voice to another transformative moment, the University of Houston-Downtown's 69th Commencement Ceremony. 

O’Brien, a noted broadcaster, producer and CEO of Soledad O’Brien Productions, will serve as UHD’s Spring Commencement speaker during its virtual ceremony at 1 p.m., May 15. The event will be conducted virtually on both Facebook and YouTube

“Just as she has been a part of so many life-changing moments in our nation, Soledad O’Brien joins UHD for another significant event … our spring graduation,” said UHD President Loren J. Blanchard. “Her presence certainly adds to the excitement and energy of the upcoming commencement exercises, and I know her words will leave a lasting impression upon our graduates, their families and the rest of our UHD Community.” 

O’Brien has served as a reporter and producer for CNN, PBS, NBC, HBO and other major networks. Her CNN documentary series “In America” (including “Black in America” and “Latino in America”) earned critical praise and inspired speaking tours addressing race and social justice. 

For her coverage of Hurricane Katrina with CNN, O’Brien earned the George Foster Peabody Award. She again received this coveted prize for her coverage of BP oil spill. Additionally, she earned CNN an Alfred I. Dupont Award for her coverage of the Southeast Asia Tsunami. 

Her talents also extend to print media, and her books “The Next Big Story” and “Latinos in America” have earned praise from peers and the public alike.  

O’Brien hosts the nationally syndicated public affairs program “Matter of Fact” and continues to contribute op ed pieces for the New York Daily News and Huffington Post and serves as Philanthropy Editor for Worth magazine. 

O’Brien will address Spring 2021 graduates virtually this May. In August, all Spring 2021 graduates and 2020 graduates will have an opportunity to participate in an in-person commencement ceremony. A date and location, as well as speaker, will be announced for that event soon. 


About the University of Houston-Downtown

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.