Coogs Springing Into Commencement

May Ceremonies at UH Celebrating Academic Achievements

Graduating student is seen from the back with his hand raised, making a coog sign.

Commencement is a time for reflection, anticipation and most importantly, celebration.

Those will be just some of the feelings experienced by University of Houston graduates as they walk the stage during Spring 2022 Commencement ceremonies taking place May 12 – 15.

This spring, 5,917 undergraduate, graduate, professional and doctoral degrees will be conferred during 17 college convocations conducted on campus. A schedule of events is available on the Spring 2022 Commencement website.

For graduates and their families, the campus will come alive with Cougar pride as red and white balloons will line areas of the campus that are perfect for pre-and post-graduation photo opportunities. Likewise, the pomp and circumstance of the actual events will further inspire those in attendance.

Photo Locations:

  • University of Houston Seal -Cullen Circle Entrance
  • Cullen Performance Hall Lobby (8 a.m. – 5 p.m. only)
  • Cullen Family Plaza
  • Athletics Alumni Center Lobby (8 a.m. – 5 p.m. only)

For friends and families unable to attend the live festivities, a live stream will capture each ceremony.

The following graduates represent just a sample of UH’s 2022 spring class and reflect the commitment to academic excellence that has long defined the Cougars.

Queen Epomba poses in graduation regalia for photos.

Queen Epomba

Queen Epomba

Two Degrees are Twice as Nice
Graduate Queen Epomba will have a particularly busy weekend as she will walk the stage twice. Epomba will receive a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese studies from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences on May 13 and a Bachelor of Science in health from the College of Education on May 15.

Her commencement itinerary is nothing compared to the active schedule she maintained as a student. Epomba was involved in undergraduate research endeavors, earned a Fulbright scholarship, traveled abroad (twice), participated in internships, served as a mentor and tutor, and was a member of the UH African Student Union. Epomba also made time to continue her mastery of different languages, including Chinese. She embarked on all of these endeavors often while maintaining a 21-hour course load and performing well academically.

In 2020, she served as a U.S. Department of State youth ambassador at Expo2020 in Dubai, and previously applied her energies to the University of Macau as a professor’s assistant. Next up for the globetrotting Epomba is National Taiwan University, where she will pursue a master’s degree in global health and focus research efforts on health disparities.

Epomba’s advice to fellow students is to recognize that the journey is not always easy, but to follow their dreams.

“If you want it, go for it,” she said. “Your ambitions are fueled by what you put into them. Practice those skills that will allow you to do more and perform to the best of your abilities. And know that all dreams take time to flourish.”

Queen Epomba poses in graduation regalia for photos.
 Heriberto Triana poses in graduation regalia for photos.

Heriberto Triana

Heriberto Triana

Career Security
Heriberto Triana was accepted at several universities in Texas. Graduating at the top of his high school class, he was a shoo-in for many prominent institutions of higher learning, but he selected UH … at first.

Before even stepping foot into a class, Triana recognized that he needed to perhaps achieve focus by attending Houston Community College.

While at HCC, he worked as a sales consultant at Best Buy and teller at Wells Fargo. In both positions, he began thinking of the risks customers faced when it came to cybercrimes. From there, his career ambitions were set on a role in cybersecurity. Also supporting his goals was his selection for the NASA National Community College Aerospace Scholars Program, which is aimed at inspiring students to pursue STEM careers.

Triana returned to UH and enrolled in the College of Technology’s computer information systems program. During his time at UH, he took advantage of resources such as Cougar Pathway, a student career hub within Career Services. His tenacity ultimately earned him a competitive internship with NASA’s cybersecurity division at Johnson Space Center (JSC).

His work ethic and talents made an impression on his supervisors. Once he graduates, he’ll have a full-time position awaiting him as an information technology cybersecurity specialist at JSC.

Triana continues a family tradition as his two brothers also graduated as Coogs. While he credits his time at HCC for sharpening his academic focus, he’ll also be grateful to the University of Houston.

For those contemplating higher education, he offers these words of wisdom.

“My advice to anyone entering either community college or a university is to be ambitious, be curious and take initiative,” he said. “Ask questions along the way and do not be afraid to seek help when you need it.”

Heriberto Triana poses for graduation photos.
Heriberto Triana wearing NASA shirt, poses for a photo.
Carmen Miranda poses for photos while wearing her graduation regalia.

Carmen Miranda

Carmen Miranda

Family Bonds
When Carmen Miranda receives her bachelor’s degree in strategic communications, it will be a proud moment for both her and her family.

Raised by a single mother, Miranda has always been part of a tight-knit loving family unit. While her mother worked six days a week, she took care of two special needs brothers, as well as a sister.

Still, higher education was calling and Miranda balanced school, family and life to achieve her dream of earning a bachelor’s degree.

Miranda selected UH because it was close to home and being away from her family was out of the question. She was delighted to discover another family within the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication. Mentors such as the school’s director, Jennifer Vardeman, provided encouragement and directed her toward resources such as scholarships.

It was through the Valenti School that she also engaged in a life-changing project in which students worked on the production of a telenovela addressing dementia within the Latino community. The project has some personal relevance to Miranda as her mother is exhibiting signs of memory loss. She hopes the telenovela promotes awareness of the challenges faced by seniors in the Latino community.

“We, as Latinos, are not having these conversations enough,” she said. “We must draw a clear distinction between what is normal aging and what could be signs of Alzheimer's or something else.”

The first-generation Latina grad is currently seeking a career in communications. Wherever she lands, she’ll always be grateful for her family and the opportunities provided by UH.

“It's been an honor to be a University of Houston college student,” Miranda said. “I am grateful for my mother's sacrifices. I am also grateful to Dr. Vardeman for vouching for me and of course, making it possible for my story to be heard. Lastly, I am grateful for all the talented individuals I've met throughout this journey who are on the same path of education, growth and self-discovery.”

Carmen Miranda poses for photos while wearing her graduation regalia.
Carmen Miranda poses for photos while wearing her graduation regalia.

Undergraduate Research Underscores UH Experience

If you ask Anushka Oak, she’ll describe herself as the average student who likes table tennis, Bollywood dancing, and of course, cognitive neuroscience.

Of course, Oak is anything but “average,” as she has been active in a number of faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects and is the recipient of numerous scholarships and grants on campus. She also is a double major and will earn her Bachelor of Science in biology and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish.

“My time here at UH has been critical for my future,” Oak said. “The mentorship, research experiences and support from faculty and staff at UH guided me to growing professionally and finding my true passions.”

Oak, also an Honors College student, benefitted greatly from scholarships awarded through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards. During her time at UH, she earned the Houston Early Research Experience, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and Provost’s Undergraduate Research Scholarship.

Alongside faculty, she has studied dual-tasking and support vector machine learning, and the effects of aging and genetic variation on cognition and language.

Soon, she will be traveling to San Sebastian, Spain through a Fulbright scholarship. There, Oak will work as a predoctoral researcher at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language.

When she crosses the stage to earn her degrees, she will follow in her father’s footsteps as he also was a Coog. Oak is grateful for the opportunities the University has provided her and particularly for enriching her passion for research and the sciences.

“Science interests me because it will always be relevant to our lives,” she said. “I am grateful to have found a community at UH that has been instrumental to my future and constantly encourages me.”

Anushka Oak poses for a photo outside.

Age is Just a Number

Graduates between the ages of 17 and 68 will walk tall during Spring 2022 Commencement. Here are some perspectives from some of spring’s most senior grads and those completing their degrees before the age of 20.

"I make it my life's purpose each day to lead at least one person toward an understanding of God's love and grace. If I accomplish these two things, my life has been worthwhile. The last five years of study at UH have profoundly affected my ability to do so."
George Russell Edward, 66 – M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction
A photo of last spring's commencement ceremony in the Fertitta Center.

A photo of the UH mace used in commencement ceremonies.

"Getting my degree has been a rewarding journey, and I am thankful for the support from my family, professors and friends along the way."
Caleb Barnett, 17 – B.S. Mathematics
"I am grateful to the faculty and my colleagues who made it possible for me to be bold enough to say today that I have developed competency in lighting the bulb for the hopeless, helpless, and disillusioned, to see broken relationships restored, and to guide parents and their children to successfully navigate their adolescent years."
Abigail Dyboh, 66 – M.Ed. Counseling
Three students wearing graduation caps and gowns walking out of a commencement ceremony.