Houston Mayor inspired TSU students to excel in commencement address
Texas Southern University held its 2016 Winter Commencement ceremony on December 10 and reinforced its designation as a special-purpose institution. Family and friends of the graduating class filled the University’s H&PE Arena to watch the academic work of their loved ones culminate in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
TSU awarded 807 degrees to graduates in its numerous fields of study.
The journey of two students – Renald “Ren” Moore, who went from serving time in the Texas Department of Corrections to college valedictorian, and Ana Gabriela Cepeda Morales, a blind student– was a shining moment and highlighted TSU’s commitment to providing higher-education opportunities to non-traditional students.
Morales received thunderous applause and standing ovation as she walked across the stage to accept her degree with her service dog, Calliope. Both Moore and Morales credit the campus-wide support they received, particularly from TSU’s Office of Disability Services, as key factors to completing their education.
“When I first arrived on campus, I didn’t even know how to use a computer,” Moore said. “And honestly, I expected an icy reception from faculty and my fellow students, but I was wrong. TSU greeted me with open arms and provided me with the necessary guidance, attention and assistance I needed to see this day.”
“Graduation is a major accomplishment for me,” Morales said. “Despite all the difficulties and obstacles I had to face, Sharon Benavides, Kaya Pickens, and Dr. Johnnie Williams among others, constantly encouraged me to keep going to accomplish my goal.”
TSU President Austin Lane, presiding over his inaugural commencement ceremony, presented Port Arthur businessman Roosevelt Petry with university’s highest honor - the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Petry was honored for his steadfast support and commitment to TSU students.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner delivered the commencement address. Mayor Turner has been a longtime advocate for Texas Southern, both in his role as a state legislator and as a former adjunct professor in TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He delivered a rousing speech to motivate the graduates.
“You are a reflection of everyone who has helped you to be here today, so every time
you do well they do well, have no regrets and always remember that the best is yet
to come,” he said.
Renald “Ren” Moore, left, a Radio, Television and Film student was class valedictorian.
Sarah Tarek Hussein, right, a Biology student was salutatorian.
Ana Gabriela Cepeda Morales, a visually impaired Business student, received thunderous
applause and standing ovation as she fulfilled her dream of walking across the stage
to accept her degree with her service dog, Calliope.
Port Arthur businessman Roosevelt Petry, center, was presented with university’s highest honor - the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Petry is shown with Interim Provost and Vice President for Research Dr. Bobby Wilson, left, and TSU President Austin Lane, right.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a longtime advocate for Texas Southern, both in his role as a state legislator and as a former adjunct professor in TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, delivered the commencement address.