Lee College to hold 2016 Fall Commencement Ceremony on Dec. 16

Ceremony will also be streamed live online via the Lee College website

Sen. Sylvia Garcia
Sen. Sylvia Garcia

BAYTOWN, TX – Lee College will recognize the achievements of more than 450 graduates at the 2016 Fall Commencement Ceremony to be held at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, in the Sports Arena on campus. Texas State Sen. Sylvia R. Garcia will deliver the keynote address.

A livestream of the ceremony will also be available online via the Lee College website at www.lee.edu.

A native of the South Texas farming community of Palito Blanco, Garcia has represented Senate District 6 since 2013 and is chairwoman of the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus. During the 84th Legislative Session, she passed 37 of her bills and served on the Education, Intergovernmental Relations, Transportation and Veterans Affairs & Military Installations committees.

After protecting children and the elderly as a social worker early in her professional career, Garcia entered public service with the city of Houston as director and presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System for an unprecedented five terms under two mayors. There, she worked to make the city court system more effective and efficient for the community. Garcia was later elected to city controller, earning a reputation as the taxpayers’ watchdog, and in 2002 was the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the Harris County Commissioners Court. As a commissioner, she continued her advocacy for working families and the most vulnerable, while also pushing for new jobs and economic development.

Garcia remains active in the Houston community, serving on more than 25 community boards and commissions including the San Jacinto Girl Scouts, which gave her the Board Award; Houston Hispanic Forum; American Leadership Forum; Battleship Texas; and the Museum of Fine Arts – Houston. She has been named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the National Conference of Communities and Justice and chosen as one of “Houston’s 25 Power People” by Inside Houston magazine.

The eighth of 10 children, Garcia’s parents taught her from an early age the value of education and hard work. She is a graduate of Texas Women’s University, which awarded her the Board of Regents Woman of Distinction Award, and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College honors more than 600 graduates at spring commencement ceremonies

BAYTOWN, TX — Texas State Rep. John Zerwas advised the more than 600 graduates who received associate degrees and certificates at the 2016 Lee College spring commencement ceremonies to never underestimate the value of the gift of knowledge they had been given.

2016 Lee College Spring Commencement“Knowledge gives you the unique advantage to control your own destiny,” said Zerwas, who delivered the keynote address at both the 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. graduations held Saturday, May 14, in the Sports Arena on campus. “Graduates from this institution are highly sought for this very reason, and you should be confident in knowing that your time at Lee College has contributed to the will, capacity and character that will allow you to rally others toward a common purpose and vision.”

Now in his fifth term as the representative for fast-growing Texas House District 28, Zerwas is also in his first term as chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education. He noted the importance of community college education throughout the state, and cited Lee College as a shining example of the instrumental role that two-year colleges play in preparing students to enter the workforce or succeed at a four-year university.

“The state of Texas is going to expect great things from you,” Zerwas said. “Be prepared to build upon this gift of knowledge, such that the certain changes that will occur in your future don’t leave you behind in a cloak of self-righteousness. Graduates from Lee College will have a legacy of impacting humanity through their chosen professions, but also through a passion for benevolence and generosity. You are joining an exclusive group of individuals who will make this place much better for generations to come.”

Among the graduates who walked across the stage at commencement to receive their degrees and certificates were nearly 50 students from IMPACT Early College High School, where students have the opportunity to earn a high-school diploma and 60 hours of college credit simultaneously. The IMPACT Class of 2016 is the third to participate in Lee College commencement since the partnership between the college and Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District began.

“Graduation is never the end; it is only the beginning of the next steps you will take in your lives,” said Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown, reminding graduates that their achievement has made them role models for others to follow. “Your education is yours forever, and it will serve you well. Congratulations for having the fortitude and the desire to better yourselves, better your families and move out into the world to do what you do best.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Zerwas to speak at commencement

Rep. John Zerwas
State Rep. John Zerwas, M.D.

BAYTOWN, TX – Texas State Rep. John Zerwas, M.D., will deliver the keynote address at the 2016 Lee College Spring Commencement Ceremonies, set for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Saturday, May 14, at the Sports Arena on campus.

Zerwas is currently in his fifth legislative term representing Texas House District 28, which encompasses northwestern Fort Bend County and is among the fastest-growing regions in the state. He is in his first term as chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education, and has advocated for increasing access to higher education and expanding opportunities for graduate medical education.

A physician for more than 30 years and one of only four doctors in the Texas House of Representatives, Zerwas brings firsthand experience and knowledge of health care systems to the forefront as a member of the Committee on Public Health. He is past-president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and has previously served as president of the Memorial Hermann Health Network Providers and chief medical officer of the Memorial Hermann Hospital System. Zerwas also co-founded a Houston-area group practice more than a decade ago that recently became part of U.S. Anasthesia Partners, and he remains active in the operations of the partnership.

Zerwas has earned numerous awards and accolades for his dedication to public service. He was twice selected by Texas Monthly magazine as one of the “Ten Best Legislators,” and received the 2014 Coalition for Texans with Disabilities Award and the 2014 American Cancer Society Cancer Action Award. In 2015, he was named the national Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Legislator of the Year for writing legislation to preserve patient access to innovative and cost-effective biologic medicines in Texas.

A graduate of Bellaire High School and the University of Houston, Zerwas earned his doctorate in medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in 1980.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Fall Commencement Dec. 11

BAYTOWN, TX – More than 150 graduates will receive associate degrees and certificates Friday, Dec. 11, at the 2015 Lee College Fall Commencement Ceremony. Todd Monette, site manager for the LyondellBasell Industries chemical complex in Channelview, will be the special guest speaker.

Todd Monette
Todd Monette

Commencement will begin at 7 p.m., inside the Sports Arena on campus. It is the second time that Lee College has hosted a graduation ceremony in the fall semester. Watch it live online.

As site manager for one of the world’s largest olefins, polyolefins, chemicals and refining companies, Monette is responsible for the safe, environmentally sound and reliable operation of the Channelview complex. He has 30 years of experience in the refining and chemical industry – including previous leadership positions with Shell and Motiva – and is known for driving culture change and personal development while providing senior-level oversight of engineering, operations, maintenance, turnarounds, reliability, cost reduction, process safety, work process and refinery management.

Monette is also actively involved with industry trade and advocacy organizations and several community initiatives. A past member of the board of directors of the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce and former executive sponsor for the Minority and Women’s Business Council in Port Arthur, he currently sits on the boards for the Galena Park Education Foundation and the San Jacinto Community College Education Foundation. He has also served as a board member for the Texas Chemical Council and as past board chairman for the East Harris County Manufacturers Association, which raised more than $275,000 this year at its second annual golf tournament to provide scholarships to Lee College and San Jacinto College students.

Monette holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Rice University and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Mississippi State University. He and his wife, Terri, are the parents of three daughters.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Perez to grads: ‘You can do and become anything’

Texas State Rep. Mary Ann Perez had three key pieces of advice for the more than 300 students who received associate’s degrees and certificates Saturday at Lee College commencement: Believe in yourself, don’t be afraid to fail, and never forget to give back to the community that gave so much to you.

Delivering the keynote address at the 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. commencement exercises in the packed-to-capacity college Sports Arena, Perez — who recently completed her first term representing House District 144 in the state Legislature — shared with graduates memories from her own winding journey to success.

Raised by her grandparents in a traditional Hispanic household where she was expected to aspire to life as a housewife and mother, Perez said she married and started a family right after graduating from Milby High School. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she decided to enroll at Houston Community College, earning an associate’s degree 8 years later. A bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Houston-Downtown followed, when she was 41.

It doesn’t matter what kind of economic or family background you come from, Perez told the graduates; what matters most is what you decide to make out of yourself.

“You can do and become anything you want,” she said. “You are not defined by what other people think of you. The opportunities are there, but no one is going to bring them to you. If you want it, go get it. It’s your life, and you have to take ownership and responsibility for your own destiny.”

Seated among the proud and joyful Lee College graduates were dozens of seniors from the first graduating class of IMPACT Early College High School, who earned associate’s degrees while also completing requirements for their high-school diplomas. Operated by the Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District, IMPACT is currently located in the college’s Advanced Technology Center.

“Our students are graduating from college and realizing their dreams. It’s a historic day, and we are very proud of them,” said Dr. Salvador Cavazos, superintendent of the Goose Creek school district. “There’s a time to celebrate in life, and this is that day for these students.”

Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown echoed that sentiment, telling graduates to take time amidst their revelry to thank the instructors, family and friends whose guidance and support helped ensure they would complete their academic programs and accomplish their goals.

At the end of the ceremony, Brown joined faculty, members of the Board of Regents and others to form a human tunnel of congratulations and applause through which the graduates recessed to exit the arena. The “Walk of Honor” is a beloved Lee College commencement tradition.

“Some of you are moving on to a university for a baccalaureate degree, and others are preparing to enter the workforce,” he said. “Keep this in mind: Today is the beginning of a journey that will lead you down a pathway to many, many more successes in your lives. We know you’re going to make us proud.”