Getting Involved Key to
UH Grads’ Success

Spring Commencement Ceremonies Scheduled for May 8 - 11

Large group of graduates sitting in the Fertitta Center.

The sounds of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé will take a backseat to another song May 8 – 11.

“Pomp and Circumstance” will be the most popular tune at the University of Houston campus that week. The ceremonial graduation march perfectly personifies the academic achievements of Cougars. It also inspires pride in the University and its mission to prepare students for the next chapters of their lives.

Spring Commencement is indeed a time for celebration, but it’s also a moment for reflection, particularly for the 6,655 Coogs who will complete this leg of their academic journeys.

This year’s graduates range in ages from 17 to 72 and include students who have engaged in extracurricular activities to better prepare them for the workforce and to serve their respective communities.

Ceremonies will be conducted on campus, and a complete schedule is available on the Spring Commencement website. The events also will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person.

Photo of graduates with student holding hand in the air as a Cougar paw.

Among those Cougars who crossed the finish line this spring (literally) is Zosia Bulhak. She will earn her bachelor's degrees in economics and English literature. Originally from Warsaw, Poland but raised in Amsterdam, Bulhak learned about UH while attending high school on the other side of the globe.

“My best friend in high school back in Amsterdam told me about UH,” she said. “Her parents met at the University, and she encouraged me to apply for the Tier One Honors Scholarship. I did so, and then found out how successful UH athletics are, specifically the UH track and field team. I was a track and cross-country runner in high school, so the opportunity to pursue sports at a Division 1 collegiate level along with receiving a top tier education convinced me to come to UH.”

Bulak joined many successful Cougars balancing athletics and academics. In fact, she excelled at both.

Her presence on the track and field team helped it rise to No. 20 in the nation. She also garnered many academic accolades, including being named Outstanding Freshman of the Year and being named to the Dean’s List for four consecutive years (2020 – 24). She recently was among the presenters at UH’s Undergraduate Research Day and earned a spot on the Scholars Walk.

And, she accomplished all of that while maintaining a challenging schedule as a student athlete.

“Being a great athlete means getting to bed early, waking up early, and going to races almost every weekend… not exactly the quintessential college experience, but I would not have it any other way,” she said.

Bulhak soon will return to Europe to pursue a career in either marketing or global strategy consulting. She’ll leave Houston, however, with lasting memories of her time at UH.

“Being at UH taught me about the importance of taking a chance on myself,” she said. “My fondest memories at UH include class discussions, as well as the training sessions and track meets. It has been an honor to represent the team and the University throughout the last four years.”

photo of blonde female student wearing black sweater and white blouse outdoors

Zosia Bulhak

Zosia Bulhak

Like Bulhak, Andrea Martinez has taken on twice the workload since arriving at UH. She too is a double major and will earn her bachelor's degrees in marketing and management.

And like Bulhak, she was very involved in extracurricular activities that bolstered her self-confidence and her resolve to succeed. She served as a UH Ambassador for the Office of Admissions, promoting the University to future students. At the C. T. Bauer College of Business, she also contributed to her time and energy to the Hispanic Business Student Association (HBSA) and recently served as its president.

“Being involved on campus exposed me to different experiences,” she said. “Serving as an Ambassador allowed me to meet peers from different backgrounds. And HBSA opened doors to many career and professional development opportunities. It definitely brought me out of my comfort zone. I am happy to say I met my ‘familia’ at UH and created wonderful memories with them.”

A native Houstonian, Martinez was drawn to UH because of its centralized location in the city and for its collection of rich cultures. Every student has a different story to tell, she said. As a student leader and ambassador, she’s been able to share hers with peers and prospective Coogs.

She is optimistic that her career path will continue at Centerpoint, where she currently holds an internship. Regardless of where she lands, she can point to UH and her involvement on campus for opening new doors.

“I recommend getting involved with an organization that fits your values and helps you achieve your goals,” she said. “I was seeking an organization where the students support each other’s accomplishments. I am deeply grateful to UH Ambassadors and HBSA for helping me grow and motivating me to pursue my goals.”

Female graduate with white dress and red stole

Andrea Martinez

Andrea Martinez

“I am happy to say I met my ‘familia’ at UH and created wonderful memories with them.”
Andrea Martinez, 2024 Spring Graduate
UH students watching fireworks go off at TDECU Stadium.

Another engaged Coog (and yet another double major) who is set to graduate is Zunayra Hemani. She will earn bachelor’s degrees in political science and health.

That in itself is impressive, but her on-campus involvement and volunteer experience is equally remarkable. Presently, she serves as a resident assistant in the University Lofts and previously held down positions such as Cougar Cupboard intern, student orientation leader, UH Public Art ambassador, Women and Gender Resource Center ambassador and Quad Residential Hall Association chair.

All of these responsibilities strengthened her resolve to succeed academically. In fact, her outstanding performance in the classroom has resulted in a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship that will take her to Bulgaria for 10 months this fall.

“Participating in all of these extracurriculars taught me a lot about myself and led me to develop skills such as time management, organization, public speaking and more,” she said. “However, probably the most important thing that came out of this was the friendships I made along the way.”

Hemani became a Coog during the pandemic. Once the campus reopened fully, she took advantage of every opportunity she could find regardless of whether it supported her academic interests.

“Just get involved,” she advises current and future students. “Don’t confine yourself to organizations or positions that are only in alignment with what you think you want to pursue. Venture out and take risks because you might find something you are even more passionate about.”

girl with black robe and graduation cap with red stole

Zunayra Hemani

Zunayra Hemani

“UH has always encouraged me to go after what I might have thought was impossible. Here, I have been taught that anything I want to do in life can be done if I work hard.”

Zunayra Hemani, Spring 2024 Graduate
Black and white photo of silhouetted graduates walking outside.
male student with striped sweater

Isaac DeBerry

Isaac DeBerry

He attended elementary school in the small town of Devers, Texas (population 447), but Isaac DeBerry eventually found higher education opportunities in the nation’s fourth largest city. Now, he’s set to graduate from UH with a bachelor’s degree in English.

The city and the University were key attractions to DeBerry whose college experience started at the height of the pandemic. Still, he was undeterred and very engaged in campus life, earning a place in UH’s Mellon Scholars Research Program (aimed at self-motivated students interested in humanities research).

“What drew me to UH was the promise of a university that was significantly more diverse than the K-12 experience I already had,” he said. “I had no idea at the time what college was going to be like, but I knew I wanted a big change. I associated a large city with promising opportunities, even if I didn’t know what those opportunities looked like yet.”

He certainly has found opportunities at UH as a Mellon Scholar and as a member of the Honors College. Next up for the aspiring English professor is a trip to Belgium courtesy of a recent Fulbright Scholarship he earned.

According to DeBerry, his time at UH has certainly prepared him for his upcoming journey. Simply being part of a community of Cougars enriched his experience at UH and left him with a network of former faculty turned friends and others who are ready to provide support when needed.

“Building a supportive community has been integral,” DeBerry said. “The experience of receiving feedback, advice, mentorship, and extensions of support both academically and personally has been the most fulfilling experience of my life.”


What has been the most impactful has been the connections I’ve made with my peers, professors, mentors, and faculty at UH.
Isaac DeBerry, Spring 2024 Graduate
Group of graduates in black caps and gowns

A Matter of Degrees

A breakdown of degrees awarded this spring are as follows:

Bachelor’s - 4,770
Master’s - 1,297
Doctoral - 164
Professional - 424
Total - 6,655

Photo Finish

Photo opportunities for graduates and their families are available at the following campus locations:

The University Seal – Cullen Circle Entrance
Cullen Family Plaza
Student Center South – First Floor Entryway
Athletics Alumni Center (8 a.m. – 5 p.m. only)

Commencement Firsts

Spring commencement has a few firsts for the University of Houston, including the first class of graduates to emerge from the Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine. On Saturday, May 11, 22 aspiring physicians will receive their degrees from the college.

Another historic moment is the first class of Doctor of Nursing Practice students to graduate from the Andy and Barbara Gessner College of Nursing. They will officially receive their doctorates during a ceremony conducted on Friday, May 10.