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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.


The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—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 Interim President Dr. Antonio D. Tillis. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 51,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College).

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.