Two Dynamic Guest Speakers Scheduled for UHD’s 75th Commencement
By Marie Jacinto
Texas State Representative Armando Walle and University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) alumnus and former NFL football player Devon Still, whose histories of service and excellence parallel the values of UHD, will serve as guest speakers during the two separate ceremonies for the University’s 75th Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 16, at Berry Center, 8877 Barker Cypress Road, Cypress, Texas.
More than 2,000 UHD Gators are slated to receive their diplomas during the 2023 Summer/Fall Commencement Ceremony. The first ceremony at 10:30 a.m. will celebrate those graduating from the Marilyn Davies College of Business and the College of Public Service with Representative Walle speaking. Still will address the graduates of the College of Sciences and Technology and College of Humanities and Social Sciences during the second ceremony at 3:30 p.m.
Texas State Representative Armando Walle, now in his eighth term in the Texas House of Representatives, grew up in the Aldine community and graduated from MacArthur High School. The oldest of five children raised by a single mother, he was the first in his family to attend and graduate from college. The values and lessons of his humble upbringing inform his legislative priorities, including the health, safety, and economic well-being of Houston’s working families, disaster relief, and flood mitigation. Representative Walle serves on multiple committees, including the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures, the Select Committee on Sustainable Property Tax Relief, the Select Committee on Health Care Reform, and the House Committee on House Administration. He is also a member of several legislative caucuses, including the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, for which he serves as General Counsel.
Before Representative Walle was elected to the Texas House, he served on the staffs of multiple elected officials, including Congressman Gene Green and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Now a practicing attorney, Representative Walle earned his bachelor's and law degree from the University of Houston. He remains a staunch supporter of the University of Houston System and an advocate of UHD.
Like Representative Walle, Devon Still was a first-generation college graduate. Today, he is a world-renowned speaker, top podcast host, and consultant who uses his powerful message of resilience to empower others with the knowledge, tools, and skills needed to flourish. Still was drafted into the NFL by the Cincinnati Bengals following a successful college football career at Penn State where he received All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors. He subsequently signed with the New York Jets and the Houston Texans.
When his young daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, Still put his NFL career on hold to be by her side during treatment. This decision was the beginning of the #LeahStrong movement, which gained global attention and united communities in raising awareness for pediatric cancer and providing support to affected families. Still continues to leverage his personal experiences, his MBA from UHD, and his master's in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania to inspire and mobilize others to lead with compassion.
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.