UHD Professors Brunch with Former FLOTUS
By Mike Emery
When University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) professor Dr. Felicia Harris received an invitation to join a book club, she didn’t immediately jump at the opportunity. She was still new to Houston and wasn’t ready to commit to a social group. After several invitations from friend and colleague, Dr. Creshema Murray, she relented. She couldn’t imagine that this decision would bring her face-to-face with one of her idols.
Earlier this month, Communication Studies professors Harris and Murray (along with their book club) were paid a visit by former First Lady Michelle Obama. Their organization, HTX Book and Brunch, won a sweepstakes and received tickets to Obama’s March 2 appearance at the Toyota Center (as part of her book tour promoting her memoir “Becoming”) and had extended an invitation to FLOTUS to have brunch with them via Instagram.
To Harris and Murray’s surprise and delight, Obama saw the invite and took them up on the offer to hang for brunch.
“It was the best two hours of my life,” Harris said. “We were wondering what we’d talk about or if we’d panic, but she was authentic and warm. Each of us were able to get in the zone and have a real discussion with her. Her responses were meaningful and honest. It was like having a great conversation with a mentor.”
Among the topics Obama addressed with Harris, Murray and HTX Book and Brunch were the challenges of being a First Lady, writing her book, and the importance of sisterhood—one of the necessities for overcoming her challenges.
“She looked beyond the questions we had and hit us back with questions of her own to connect with each one of us,” Harris said. “The discussion was very fruitful, and at times, I was moved to tears.”
As an educator, Harris walked away from the brunch with several insights to share in the classroom.
“The story of her ‘career swerves’ spoke to me the most,” she said. “This is a subject I can share with students at UHD … the need to discover what will fulfill you and how to embark on a trajectory to take you where you need to be personally and professionally.”
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.