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March Gator Grit Series Honors Stephen Hawking


By Paige Caldwell

The March installment of the Gator Grit Series featured "Gator Grit in STEM: Salute to Stephen Hawking."

The CITGO® sponsored event was held on March 20 in the Welcome Center's Milam and Travis Rooms and featured a panel comprised of UHD alumni who are STEM graduates. The discussion covered ways in which they overcame challenges on the path to successful careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) while applying lessons from Dr. Hawking’s life and teachings in the face of adversity. Featured speakers:

  • Dr. Karina Vázquez-Arreguin (‘10, Microbiology)
    • Postdoctoral Fellow, Kalluri Laboratory 
  • Isaac Valdez (‘14, Mathematics)
    • Clinical Program Manager, Radiation Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center 
  • Dr. Valerie K. Jordan (‘11, Biology)
    • Senior Sponsored Programs Analyst, Baylor Licensing Group 
  • Karla Alvarez (‘07, Microbiology)
    • Technical Specialist, Molecular Oncology, Texas Children's Hospital

UHD's Gator Grit Speaker Series highlights regional leaders, showcasing examples of grit that inspires courage, resolve and tenacity within both UHD and the Houston community.

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.