Class of 2017 told to ‘stay in the driver’s seat’ at Spring Commencement

Newest Associate Degree Nursing graduates also recognized in separate Pinning Ceremony

Lee College 10 a.m. Graduation ceremony
Lee College recognized more than 630 graduates at the 2017 Spring Commencement held Saturday, May 13, 2017, in the Sports Arena on campus. Sisters Tina Pennington and Mandy Williams, better known as “Red” and “Black,” delivered the keynote address and encouraged graduates to face their fears, polish their soft skills and remain strong and driven in pursuing their dreams.

BAYTOWN, TX — As a capacity crowd packed with family, friends and supporters cheered and applauded from the audience, more than 630 Lee College graduates were recognized for earning associate degrees and certificates of completion at the 2017 Spring Commencement ceremonies.

“You cannot imagine how proud we are,” Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown told the graduates. “As you move forward, know that this is not the end of your journey; it is the beginning. It’s the time where you think about your next steps, and I would also ask you to remember those that will follow you. You have blazed a trail. Thank you for what you’ve accomplished, and for what you’ve done for those that will follow you because of the successes you have earned.”

In their keynote address to the Class of 2017 – which included nearly two dozen IMPACT Early College High School students receiving their associate degrees before their high school diplomas – sisters, authors, educators and entrepreneurs Tina Pennington and Mandy Williams encouraged the graduates to remember that some of the greatest blessings in life can come from confronting the most difficult and challenging situations. Pennington and Williams, better known as “Red” and “Black” respectively, learned that lesson firsthand after Red’s husband was fired from his job and she turned to her sister for help mastering the family’s finances. Black, who earned an MBA in International Finance from New York University and London Business School before retiring from the oil and gas industry at just 40 years old, assured the nervous Red – a Theater Arts graduate at Wake Forest University who became a full-time wife and mother and was initially intimidated by financial terminology like “assets and liabilities” – that the job loss and subsequent processes of learning about personal finance and rebuilding her life would be the best thing to ever happen to her.

The frank and candid messages the sisters exchanged during Red’s period of crisis formed the basis of their national bestseller, “What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!” which features practical guidance and advice about achieving financial health and a richer, more satisfying life. Initially launched by Neiman Marcus, the book has since been adapted into an educational program at KIPP Houston High School and incorporated into book study programs at more than 30 percent of Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison units. Along with financial literacy, Red and Black also emphasize the need for soft skills like critical thinking, problem solving, communication and teamwork.

“Once I started doing personal finance, realized the importance of the soft skills I already had and just stopped to think about things, I realized she was right,” Red told the Lee College graduates. “It really was the best thing for me – but more than that, it was the best thing for my daughters, and to be able to talk with students like yourselves and others we come across.”

As the first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis, Black used racing analogies to present the graduates with an essential life choice: being a passenger who lets life control them, or being a driver who controls their own life. Remember the important corners on the track that require a steady hand, and keep the fun of the curves in perspective of the bigger picture, she said. Most of all, stay in the driver’s seat instead of simply coasting along.

“Think of all the times you could have quit, all the excuses you could have made, but you kept going. You’re here today and you’ve proved that you are strong and driven,” Black said. “None of us know where our lives are going to take us. Take a deep breath, hold on to the steering wheel and throttle on.”

2017 Associate Degree Nursing Pinning Ceremony

Lee College Nurse Pinning ceremony
Lee College welcomed the 60 newest graduates of the Associate Degree Nursing program into the nursing profession at the annual Pinning Ceremony held Friday, May 12, 2017, in the Sports Arena on campus. Each graduate received a pin to signify completion of their Lee College journey and entry into the next phase of their lives and careers.

The 60 newest graduates of the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program received pins to signify completion of their Lee College journey at the annual Pinning Ceremony, where they were also welcomed into the nursing profession and charged to devote themselves to the welfare of the patients that will soon be committed to their care.

ADN faculty presented individual awards to students who displayed academic and clinical excellence and best represented the unique spirit of nursing, before calling each student to the stage one by one to be recognized. As a special twist this year, graduates were given the option of having a registered nurse of their choice join Director of Nursing Tracy Allen to congratulate them and affix the coveted metal pins to their starched, white uniforms.

Graduates then lined up to receive the symbolic light of knowledge from their instructors, passing the live flame from one ceramic lamp to the next and reciting the Florence Nightingale Pledge taken by all professional nurses.

Citing a quote from former Pres. Teddy Roosevelt about the importance of striving for success and staying in the arena despite failures and shortcomings, Allen praised the graduates for their consistent effort to complete the rigorous program and prove their knowledge and mastery of the important skills and abilities they need to be effective nurses. The nursing pins they earned at Lee College will become one of their most prized possessions as they continue into the next phase of their lives and careers, she said.

“You are well prepared and ready to enter the workforce in the greatest profession in the world,” Allen said. “Congratulations — we are all very proud of you.”

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 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College to recognize more than 630 graduates at 2017 Spring Commencement

Graduates of Associate Degree Nursing program will also receive pins in separate ceremony

BAYTOWN, TX – Lee College will recognize the achievements of more than 630 graduates at the 2017 Spring Commencement Ceremony. Tina Pennington and Mandy Williams, sisters better known as “Red” and “Black” who co-authored a book about personal finance and developed an educational program to promote financial literacy, will be the guest speakers.

Spring Commencement will be held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Saturday, May 13, in the Sports Arena on campus. The ceremonies will also be streamed live online via the Lee College website at www.lee.edu.

Born in New York, Pennington and Williams — or Red and Black, respectively — wrote the nationally recognized best seller, “What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!” after Pennington’s husband lost his job. A Theater Arts graduate from Wake Forest University and stay-at-home mom, Pennington quickly realized how little she understood about the family’s personal finances and turned to her sister for help. Williams, who holds an economics degree from Wilkes College, earned an MBA in International Finance from New York University and London Business School and retired from the oil and gas industry at just 40 years old, responded by taking her sister on a frank and candid three-month tour through the real world of money.

Their book features a wealth of practice guidance and advice about managing personal finances to achieve financial health and a richer, more satisfying life – exploring everything from specific issues like balance sheets and credit cards, to long-term financial planning and more fundamental concepts like values, time management and handling stress. Initially launched by Neiman Marcus, the book has since become the basis of the “Personal Finance & Life 101” program the sisters developed and taught at KIPP Houston High School. The book has also been approved by the Texas State Board of Education as a personal financial literacy textbook, and is being introduced at Texas Department of Criminal Justice units as part of a book study program.

Now authors and educators, Red and Black also write columns about personal finance and are frequently invited for speaking engagements and appearances. They delivered the keynote address at the spring convening of the Educate Texas STEM Accelerator in March, and have also spoken this year at the Greater Houston Partnership’s UpSkill Houston Regional Faculty Summit and the Texas Career Education Winter Conference.

2017 Associate Degree Nursing Pinning Ceremony

Spring 2017 graduates of the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program at Lee College will be honored and welcomed into their new profession at the annual Pinning Ceremony set for 7 p.m., Friday, May 12, in the Sports Arena.

As part of the ceremony, nursing graduates will receive a special pin signifying their participation in the Lee College ADN program. They will also recite the Florence Nightingale Pledge, an oath named for the founder of modern nursing and taken by all professional nurses. Faculty members will recognize students who have demonstrated high academic achievement and clinical excellence throughout the two-year program, and lead graduates in a sacred lamp-lighting ceremony that symbolizes the passage of knowledge from one generation of nurses to the next.

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 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee honors first graduates of the Weekend College

Less than 2 years after program launched, nearly 30 students will receive associate degrees

Lee College's first Weekend College graduation event held in Rundel Hall, 05/07/17
Less than 24 months after enrolling in the Weekend College at Lee College, the first graduates of the innovative program were honored at a ceremony held Sunday, May 7, 2017, and will receive associate degrees at 2017 Spring Commencement. Pictured, back row, from left: Jessica Francis, Olivia Barillari-Davila, Ezequiel Arriaga, Christopher Ramirez, Gerald Garcia, Gabriel Peterson, Tyler Butler, Juan Herrera, Alex Garza, George Jewell and Jose Castillo. Middle row: Raquel Velazquez, Rosa Ibarra Castillo; Reyna Gomez, Jameal Jones, Christy Ary, Cathy Graham and Ronise Devore. Bottom: Brittany Farrias and Cinthia Aguillon.

BAYTOWN, TX — Less than 24 months after entering the Weekend College at Lee College and embarking on a brand-new journey targeted to adult learners and working students juggling school with other responsibilities, the first 28 graduates of the program were honored at a special ceremony held just days before they cross the stage to receive their associate degrees at the 2017 Spring Commencement.

“It is amazing to recognize the very first graduates of our Weekend College program. You all are truly trailblazers. Because of your persistence and cooperation, we’ve developed something that will serve a lot of students in the future,” Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown shared with graduates in a keynote address at the ceremony, held Sunday, May 7, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center. “What you have done sets in motion something that will inspire those who will follow you someday.”

Funded through a $2.7 million First in the World Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Weekend College gives students the opportunity to earn associate degrees in less than 2 years by attending classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Five majors are offered: Transfer in Allied Health, General Studies – Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management, Industrial Welding Technology and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology.

Of the first cohort of students to enroll in the Weekend College in Fall 2015, fully 65 percent are expected to complete their degree programs within three years or less – significantly more than the state average of 12 percent. Much of that success is attributed to the program’s unique design, which keeps the same groups of students together from enrollment to graduation or transfer; offers courses at multiple campus locations, with many delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction; provides block scheduling that enables students to know exactly which courses to take and when they will be held; and ensures Weekend College courses are never dropped or filled to capacity. Students also work with a completion coach who helps them apply and enroll, secure financial aid and conquer any challenges that arise during the program or after graduation.

“You would never have made it through the Weekend College if you didn’t have ambition, faith and belief that this could be done, and you did it,” Brown said. “You challenged yourself in this program, and you should continue to challenge yourself. Never settle for the least; always look for the most. Go out, find, search, seek and make it happen. Education is the one thing that no one can ever take from you.”

At the ceremony, graduates received glass trophies acknowledging their completion of the program and awarded certificates to someone whose support made a difference during their Lee College career — whether it was a faculty or staff member, classmate, parent, spouse or even their child. Reyna Gomez, who will be receiving an Associate of Applied Science degree in Management, thanked Weekend College Completion Coach Jessica Falla for helping her at every step of the journey.

“I started the program really nervous and was going to stop going to school completely, but you were always there from the beginning,” Gomez said, referring to Falla and the other Weekend College staff and instructors whom she got to know in the program. “Nobody knew I was struggling trying to keep up with my classes, but I had a dream to accomplish. Though it wouldn’t be easy, you told me it would be worth it. Thank you all, because I made it.”

The Lee College Foundation also awarded scholarships to four of the top Weekend College students in the 2017 graduating class that can be used to continue their education or for expenses they face as they prepare to enter the workforce. Recipient Alex Garza, who maintained a 4.0 GPA while attending classes and working a full-time schedule of 40-50 hours per week, plans to earn a specialized certification in computer technology and pursue a bachelor’s degree at the University of Houston.

“I would tell anyone thinking about signing up for the Weekend College to go for it,” said Garza, who will receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer and Network Maintenance Technology. “You get to know your fellow students and instructors in a way you wouldn’t if you were in a more traditional program.”

The tight, close-knit bond shared by the students, instructors and staff is part of what makes the Weekend College so special. Grant director Victoria Marron encouraged the graduates to stay in touch with each other and their Lee College family as they continue into the next phases of their lives and careers.

“I’m full of thanks, appreciation and reflection,” Marron said. “Creating a program from scratch is no easy task and it takes a village to come together. When you get this degree and walk across that stage, take a moment and look around you. You’ve defeated so many odds and all your cheerleaders have been there to support you. Know that we support you and encourage you still.”

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 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Completion Coach motivates Weekend College students to persist to graduation

Jessica Falla, Weekend College Completion Coach
Jessica Falla, Completion Coach for the Weekend College at Lee College, counsels a student during a session in her office. The Completion Coach works with Weekend College students to offer support and help break down barriers they encounter before enrolling in the program and through graduation. A free information session about the Weekend College is set for Thursday, April 13.

BAYTOWN, TX — As a community college graduate who took developmental classes, commuted to her Queens, N.Y., campus and juggled schoolwork with caring for her grandmother, Jessica Falla is especially well suited for her role as the Completion Coach for Lee College’s innovative Weekend College program.

Whenever a Weekend College student needs help with a problem inside or outside of the classroom, Falla is only a phone call, text message, email or visit away — and many students credit the consistent, warm and knowledgeable support of their Completion Coach for motivating them to conquer challenges and persist toward their degree.

“The common ground is that everyone is filled to the brim with responsibilities. No one can be just a college student; they have all of these roles they play that have to remain intact even while they go to school,” said Falla, who holds a Master of Education degree in school counseling.

“I understand what it’s like being pulled in so many different directions, and I was always grateful for the personal interactions I had with staff and counselors when I was in college,” she said. “I want students to walk into my office and feel they can relax and open up. Whatever barrier they’re facing, I take it on with them and we will overcome it together.”

Weekend College students can earn associate’s degrees in less than 2 years by attending classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Funded through a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program caters to adult learners and others who want to advance their careers but have to balance classes with work and other responsibilities.

A free information session for prospective Weekend College students will be held from 7-8:30 p.m., Thursday, April 13, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Faculty, staff and current students will outline the five different majors offered — Transfer in Allied Health, General Studies – Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management, Industrial Welding Technology and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology — and give details about enrolling for the Fall 2017 semester. Information will be available in English and Spanish, and refreshments will be provided.

Additional information sessions are set for May 21, June 10, July 18 and Aug. 2.

Weekend College students are kept together in small cohorts of 18-25 people from enrollment to graduation or transfer. Courses are offered at multiple Lee College locations to make them more convenient, and many are delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction. With block scheduling, students know exactly which courses to take and when they will be held — and once accepted into the program, they are guaranteed to always have the classes they need for their degree.

For her part as Completion Coach, Falla considers herself to be a student advocate. She regularly drops by classes and makes herself available on Fridays, Saturdays and any day students need her. She helps them decide if the Weekend College is the right fit for their goals; connects them to campus and community resources; invites them to bring their children and families to college events; and breaks down the parts of applying for and attending college that overwhelm them the most.

It’s also important to encourage students to take ownership of their education and be accountable for their own learning and success, said Falla, who enjoys being a role model and trusted adviser as they pursue higher education and work toward a brighter future.

“I get to know these students for two years and watch them graduate,” she said. “We’re very lucky to see them grow, adjust and reach their reward. It’s a great and wonderful experience.”

For more details about the Weekend College at Lee College or the upcoming information sessions, contact Falla at 281.425.6421 or Outreach and Recruitment Specialist Sharon Guillory at 832.556.5776, or visit www.lee.edu/weekend.

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.

More than 250 grads recognized at 2016 Fall Commencement

BAYTOWN, TX — With their family and friends filling every seat of the Sports Arena, more than 250 graduates crossed the stage at the Lee College Fall 2016 Commencement ceremony to receive their associate degrees and certificates of completion.

2016 Fall Commencement
More than 250 graduates participated in the Lee College 2016 Fall Commencement, held Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in the Sports Arena on campus. The ceremony was also streamed live online.

“You did it. You made it happen,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown, extending congratulations to both the graduates and the loved ones who supported them throughout their academic journeys. “There were a lot of challenges and obstacles, but you are here this evening and there is so much more to come. Education doesn’t stop tonight; our education lasts a lifetime. You have set a course, your path is before you and now it’s up to you to follow.”

As she praised the graduates’ hard work to achieve their dreams, keynote speaker and Texas State Sen. Sylvia Garcia shared two of her earliest aspirations. The eighth of 10 children born and raised in the small South Texas farming community of Palito Blanco, Garcia first wanted to someday work inside an air-conditioned building rather than outside in sun-scorched fields. Second, she wanted to make sure children in need of medical care would not have to stand in line to receive shots, as she and other poor youth from Palito Blanco did.

Garcia’s parents assured her that if she worked hard, got an education and kept her belief in God, she could reach any goal she set for her future. After earning a bachelor’s degree in social work from Texas Woman’s University and receiving a Juris Doctor degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, the former social worker and longtime public servant realized they were right. A degree is the one thing in life that no one can give you or take away, she said, and the key to opening many doors and possibilities.

“No matter who you are or where you come from, tonight you’re all very equal because that’s the beauty of education: it’s the great equalizer for all Americans,” Garcia said, acknowledging that many Lee College students likely had to juggle their studies with a job, family and other responsibilities.

“You have an education and you have a shot at the American Dream,” she said. “Whether your father is a plant manager or a welder or you were raised by a single mom, inside of the classroom you can achieve anything you set your mind to. It truly is a place where the sky is the limit.”

Though she was elected controller for the city of Houston, became the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the Harris County Commissioners Court and has represented District 6 in the Texas State Senate since 2013, Garcia told graduates that her first two election campaigns were failures. Success and failure are temporary and neither is a reason to grow complacent or discouraged, she said.

“There should never be a time in your life where you’re not challenged, because it is the challenge that stretches you and shows you what you can be come,” Garcia said. “Use your will. Successful people aren’t stronger than others or necessarily smarter than others, but they have to have more desire than others. To succeed, you must desire to succeed more than anything else. Find something you can be passionate about. Find something where you can make your mark on this world. Keep dreaming. Reach for more. Do and dare.”

The message resonated with graduate Stephen Shea, a U.S. Navy veteran who moved to Baytown from Gardiner, Maine, to attend Lee College and pursue a new career in the petrochemical field. A former butcher who was looking for an affordable education that would fully prepare him for work in the industry, he earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in process technology and feels confident about his ability to find a job and hit the ground running.

“I was never a great student and I was nervous about keeping up with my classes, but my experience at Lee College has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Shea, who thanked his wife and family for their continuous support from his arrival in Texas through completion of his degree. “The instructors really encouraged me. They didn’t make it easy, but they were always willing to help. I can’t believe the connections I’ve made.”

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.

TRiO Student Support Services celebrates summer & fall 2016 graduates

BAYTOWN, TX — When Jarvis Booker joined the TRiO Student Support Services program at Lee College, he was looking for an organization or activity to help beef up his resume. Instead, he found a new family and discovered new dreams on the way to earning this fall Associate of Applied Science degrees in Process Technology and Manufacturing Engineering Technology.

TRiO SSS graduates
The TRiO Student Support Services program celebrated more than a dozen summer and fall 2016 graduates at a special ceremony held Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. The program offers participants a variety of services to help them successfully complete their chosen associate degree or certificate.

“It allowed me to enrich my character and develop determination, motivation and goals I never even had before,” said Booker, one of more than a dozen TRiO graduates from the summer and fall 2016 semesters honored at a special ceremony held Dec. 15, 2016, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the TRiO Student Support Services program at Lee College offers a range of assistance to help low-income students, first-generation college students and students with disabilities progress through the academic pipeline — from financial aid, registration, graduation and transfer assistance, to individualized education plans, individual and group tutoring and student success workshops.

“It was more than just help with registration and enrolling in the right classes. I learned things I never thought I would learn,” Booker said. “I received personal counseling in a more intimate setting. I learned to trust my advisers because they know what’s best for me. They want people to work hard, and it makes you a better person to know what you can accomplish.”

At the ceremony, each graduate received a customized plaque in recognition of successful completion of their chosen associate degree or certificate program. They also had the opportunity to award a special certificate to an instructor, staff member or loved one whose support made a difference during their time on campus.

“You have accomplished so much and demonstrated academically and scholastically that you are a college graduate,” Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown said. “You now have the tools, knowledge and training to be very successful. Look back and think about those in your family, friends and community who you can now help direct, guide and advise. Help someone like someone helped you.”

Treva Brown-Askey, a former TRiO participant and faculty member who chairs the Developmental Education Division at the college, also urged graduates to continue giving back to their community.

“Your journey doesn’t have to stop here,” Brown-Askey said. “You have the opportunity to do great things and the future is really yours. You have power. You are the example. We challenge you to take your experience to others. Keep moving forward.”

Brittnie Broglin came to Student Support Services shortly after losing her mother, struggling to make it through her first semester at Lee College while also working two jobs. Now, after earning a second associate’s degree in E-Business Web Development, she feels ready to step into a bright new future in the information technology field.

“They were there to support me, helping me transition after my mother passed and keeping me on track with the classes I needed,” Broglin said. “I feel wonderful. After all the studying and working, graduation feels like a burden has been lifted. I can breathe. To anyone considering TriO, I would say ‘just try.’ It can only help you.”

For more information about the TRiO Student Support Services at Lee College, contact 281.425.6500 or csebastien@lee.edu.

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 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.