First Lecture - University of Houston
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First Lecture is UH College of Education Dean Bob McPherson’s signature event, designed to give students, faculty, staff and guests a memorable and motivational first lecture to start the academic year.

First Lecture 2020

Kick off the academic year with inspirational speakers as they share insights on moving toward a better future amid COVID-19 and racial disparities.

Date: Aug. 21, 2020
Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Virtual link

Free to attend. RSVP here. Students who RSVP will be entered in a contest for prizes.


Chef Christine Ha uses food and words as her creative portals to connect with others. She earned national acclaim as the first legally blind contestant and winner of “MasterChef” Season 3. This proud UH alumna earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in 2013. Ha owns The Blind Goat and Xin Chào restaurants in Houston and has written a cookbook, “Recipes from my Home Kitchen.” Are you ready for her to challenge our intellectual palates?

Kam Franklin, lead singer of the Houston-based Gulf Coast soul band The Suffers, began singing at age 5 and writing songs at age 11. The multicultural band launched in 2011 and, though they faced adversity during the first few years, did not let the naysayers slow them down. In fact, Franklin quit her day job in 2015 to pursue her dreams full time. In conjunction with her music, she is an activist, speaking on the creative process, perseverance, finding joy in life, taking big risks for big rewards, and empowerment for women and people of color. Are you ready to tune in and learn about her experiences?

Comedian Bill Santiago describes his journey as becoming a stand-up comedian after narrowly escaping a career in journalism. Still, he has dabbled in both worlds. In addition to appearing on CNN as a commentator, he has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post and other publications. Santiago’s comedy creatively combines his upbringing, being bilingual and his identity. He has won over fans nationwide with his Comedy Central Show, his description of Spanglish (“twice the vocabulary and half the grammar!”) and his beloved catchphrase “¡Porque because!” Are you ready to take in serious topics with a side of comedy?

Past Speakers