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Hobby School Commencement


2024 Commencement Marks Important Milestones for the Hobby School and Graduates

Graduates, their families and friends celebrated the completion of an important goal in their academic careers at the seventh Hobby School commencement on May 9. Forty-five graduates, including those receiving a bachelor’s in public policy for the first time since the undergraduate program began in 2022 and first-time Master of Public Administration graduates under the Hobby School banner, walked the stage.

The 2024 graduating class joins a robust group of mission-oriented leaders who have mastered interdisciplinary coursework, ethics and leadership training and advanced quantitative and qualitative analysis since the school was founded in 2016. 

enrique at podium
2024 student speaker Enrique Garcia, Master of Public Policy with a specialization in economic policy 

Student speaker Enrique Garcia (MPP ’24), deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia, encouraged his fellow graduates to multiply their knowledge through public service:

“Public service means genuinely caring about the needs of others. Public policy is the means to address those needs; however, the challenges require constant attention and a steady mind. It requires one to put everything they have learned into implementing meaningful change. That is the quality the Hobby school has fostered in us.”

cruz with cap
Cruz Almonaci, Bachelor of Science in Public Policy and UH Honors College scholar 


Cruz Almonaci (’24) returned to Houston to graduate after serving as a congressional intern in the Washington office of U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee through the Leland Fellows program. She is the first in her family to attend college. The former Civic Houston Intern served on the Hobby School Student Advisory Council and is a member of the Pi Alpha Alpha honor society for public affairs and public administration students. Almonaci received the 2024 Garnet Coleman Award for Student Excellence for embodying the school’s mission of integrating classroom learning with real-world application and her passion for public service.

“When you want to pursue a career in public service, the greatest gift you could ever receive is the skills, experience and mentorship to be a resource for your community. The Hobby School has provided me with endless opportunities to grow academically and professionally.”

Andrea Duhon, Master of Public Administration graduate and a member of Pi Alpha Alpha Global Honor Society 


Andrea Duhon (MPA ’24) is among the first Master of Public Administration graduates under the Hobby School banner to complete the degree since the program transferred to the school in 2023. The 2024 Garnet Coleman Award for Student Excellence recipient serves as the board president of the Harris County Department of Education through 2028 and is the executive director of management districts at Hawes Hill & Associates, a consulting company for municipalities and management districts.

"The camaraderie and support of my cohort and the alumni association taught me that we're all in this together for the betterment of the society we are building."

2024 Commencement Speaker

Speaker Walle

Texas state Rep. Armando Walle, a proud two-time Coog, delivered the 2024 commencement address. In his eighth term in the Texas House of Representatives, the state lawmaker has long advocated for the Hobby School and has hosted and mentored numerous Hobby Fellows and Civic Houston Interns in Austin and Houston. He congratulated the graduates with a challenge to persevere in all endeavors:

“Before me sit our future civic leaders and community advocates. Your education has been grounded in an understanding of policy and creative problem-solving. You have been primed to enter the workforce to help communities both across the state and across the world, and face challenges head-on.”

Class of 2024

The diverse cohort of 2024 Hobby School graduates includes the first six students earning a BA/BS in public policy, 12 Master of Public Policy and 16 Master of Public Administration. There are ten two-time Coogs, nine students who completed graduate certificates in public policy and two who earned dual graduate degrees. Notably, thirteen are members of Pi Alpha Alpha, a prestigious global honor society in public affairs and administration. Whether enhancing their current roles or exploring new avenues, Hobby School grads are poised to make a difference in public, private and nonprofit sectors.