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UHD Announces Fall 2018 Commencement Speakers


By Mike Emery

University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) graduates will hear from distinguished business leaders Andres Alcantar and Gilbert Garcia during Commencement Weekend December 15 and 16.

During the University’s 65th Commencement on Dec. 15, Alcantar, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Texas Association of Business (TAB), will serve as the event’s guest speaker. Alcantar will address more than 1,500 graduates during this ceremony, which kicks off at 11 a.m. at Minute Maid Park. Beatrize Tapia will serve as the student speaker at this event.

Prior to his role with TAB, Alcantar served the Texas Workforce Commission TWC as chairman and commissioner. He was appointed to the commission in 2008 and appointed as chairman in 2012 by then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry. During his time with TWC, Alcantar worked to advance the state’s workforce through a variety of initiatives, including expanding industry-based partnerships across Texas that centered on best practices helping workers and businesses achieve success. He also advocated for enhanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives in Texas classrooms to prepare students for an increasingly competitive workforce. Alcantar holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public administration from Texas Tech University.

Student speaker Tapia is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. She was raised in the Alief-area of Houston and transferred to UHD from Houston Community College. She is a first-generation college student.

Garcia will address the Master of Business Administration and Master of Security Management candidates at UHD’s Marilyn Davies College of Business Graduate Programs ceremony. The event will begin at 2 p.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center’s Assembly Theater. MBA candidate Carlos Luna will serve as the student speaker at this ceremony.

Garcia is a managing partner with award-winning asset management firm Garcia Hamilton & Associates. Under his leadership, the firm has reached more than $10 billion in fixed income assets under management. Garcia serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Dallas Police & Fire Pension Systems; the Board of Directors for Sanchez Energy and the Board of Directors of Sponsors for Educational Opportunity. Garcia previously served as a vice president of Cisneros Asset Management Company, working alongside former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros. He also served as chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County and secretary of the Board of Directors of the Houston Downtown Management District. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University.

Luna immigrated to the United States from El Salvador. He arrived in the U.S. at the age of six and grew up in Bellaire. While attending Bellaire High School, he began working at MD Anderson Cancer Center as a custodian. He’s remained at the MD Anderson for 24 years and now works in its information technology department. After earning his MBA, Luna will be a two-time graduate of UHD. He currently holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the institution.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

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 President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 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).

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. 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.