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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 Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.