Alumnus Reece Rondon spoke at Fall Convocation 2011, introducing keynote speaker Judge Keith P. Ellison and telling some of his own Honors story. Here’s more of Reece’s story for those who weren’t in attendance…
Why did you choose Honors?
Ever since I moved to Houston when I was seven years old, I was a University of Houston fan. That was due in large part to the success the football team was having in the Southwest Conference and Cotton Bowl, followed shortly thereafter by the Phi Slamma Jamma days in basketball. But back then the University of Houston didn’t have a great academic reputation with many in the community and state and, more importantly to me, among my peers and classmates. And, as I know now, that was an unfair reputation.
But when I learned about the Honors College (then, Program), it really piqued my interest. The Honors College’s academic reputation was, and is, well earned. At Cougar Preview and other events, I learned about Human Sit and some of the other Honors classes. I was later awarded a Cullen Leadership Scholarship, and that sealed the deal. I could attend the hometown school that grabbed my heart in the athletic arena, and not have any concerns about academic perception, with the added benefit of a very generous scholarship.
How did the Honors College prepare you to become a great alumni leader?
During high school, I was able to do fairly well with very little effort or challenge. And being a teenager, I took advantage of that and never worked very hard at my studies. As a result, I never really learned how to study, or prepare, or learn. At least, not efficiently or proficiently.
During my first semester at UH, I did very poorly compared to my high school levels of success. I just wasn’t prepared to study on my own. I was forced to learn quickly or lose my scholarship and my place in the Honors College. Fortunately, in the Honors College, many high-achieving students surrounded me. From them, I was able to draw inspiration to do well in my studies. And, with some hard work, I was able to right the ship.
Not only did the Honors College give me a great and well-rounded education academically, but also I was able to learn how to prepare, as well as the value and necessity of hard work in order to get a leg up. I was able to leverage that academic experience in law school and graduated with honors from the University of Houston Law Center. But if it weren’t for my experiences that first year in the Honors College, I don’t believe I would have been able to achieve such levels of success in law school. And I wouldn’t be where I am now.
What was the most profound take away from your Honors experience—something that has resonated through the years?
This goes hand in hand with the previous question—hard work, preparation, and dedication do not guarantee success. But they greatly increase the probability of success. That was a lesson I hadn’t learned before the Honors College.
What's your favorite Honors memory?
I think my favorite memories from the Honors College—aside from the give and take discussions in small classes such as Human Situation, American History with Dr. Cook and several business college courses—were in Taub Hall and the Quad where I made life-long friends. No one memory stands out more than others. But my time in the Honors College (both academically and socially) was the foundation for the life I have now.
About Reece Rondon
Judge Reece Rondon was first appointed to the bench in October 2003 and has presided over the 234th District Court since March 2005. Before his appointment, Reece had a broad legal practice, working at both Andrews Kurth LLP in their litigation and corporate/securities sections, as well as the law department of Reliant Energy. He is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education conferences and has spoken for the American Bar Association, Texas State Bar Association, and Houston Bar Association. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center, where he has taught Trial Advocacy since 2008.
He attended the University of Houston, graduating with honors in both accounting and law. In his undergraduate years, Reece earned an academic scholarship in the Honors College. In law school, he was an editor of the Houston Law Review, graduating in the top thirteen percent of his class.
Reece serves on the Boards of Directors of Bo's Place, and the University of Houston Alumni Association where he previously served as Chairman of the Board. He also previously served on the Board of Directors of Career and Recovery Resources, Inc. He is a life member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo serving on its Directions and Assistance Committee. In 2007, he was named one of the Five Outstanding Young Houstonians by the Houston Jaycees, and one of the Five Outstanding Young Texans by the Texas Jaycees. Reece is a first generation American. He and his wife, Andria, and daughter, Anna Kate, live in the Memorial Heights area, and are active members of Second Baptist Church. At Second Baptist, he is an assistant deacon and volunteers with teenagers in the Junior High and High School Ministries.