Keynote speaker US District Judge Keith P. Ellison inspired the audience with words of hope at the 33rd annual Honors Fall Convocation on Thursday night in the Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom.
“Dream big and don’t be intimidated by your fears,” Ellison said.
A number of University faculty, staff members and students joined in the event to welcome incoming students.
“It is good for the University community to gather together to welcome new students and to welcome back students to a place that will become their alma mater,” said dean of the Honors College William Monroe.
Appearing on behalf of UH President Renu Khator, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs John Antel addressed the new Honors College students.
“This is the beginning for you, a beginning that in hindsight, when you look back and reflect, you will understand that this is an amazing opportunity for you,” Antel said. “The keystone as a curriculum, the Human Situation curriculum that Dr. Estess and his colleagues have worked on for over 30 years is now, I think, what could be called a tradition. It’s a fine tradition, one that I lovingly call the ‘great books curriculum.’
“You’re going to come out an educated person. This is really important. It’s not just about writing — it’s about delving into discussions about how you live your life and who you determine yourself to be.”
Another speaker at the event, District Judge Reece Rondon, echoed those thoughts.
“I can honestly say I could not be the person I am today had I not chose to come to the University of Houston in what was then the Honors Program, now the Honors College,” Rondon said.
Ellison also emphasized the importance of having good morals and character.
“The quality of your minds is clearly very high, but the quality of your hearts must be even higher,” Ellison said.
“You will, of course, live your life in times that if you judge by wealth and power will be the best of times. You will also live through times that if you judge by wealth and power will be the worst of times.”
Judges Ellison and Rondon were given the same books that freshmen will read in their Human Situation course.
“Hopefully you can keep up with our freshmen,” Monroe said.
Founding dean Ted Estess reminded the new Honors College students about what it means to join the program.
“Students are entering into an old tradition, reaching back to the 1950s when the program first started,” Estess said. “They are joining a long tradition and a special community that extends all over the world. We are happy to welcome a new class to the University of Houston and the Honors College.”
The Honors College welcomed 14 Terry Scholars, nine Estess Scholars, about 50 Tier One Scholars and 23 National Merit Scholars, which is the most since 2002.