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.”