This week nearly 5,000 University of Houston students will receive their degrees during the fall 2019 University Commencement. Among them is a 72-year-old former CEO and an 18-year-old wunderkind – the youngest person to graduate this semester. Commencement ceremonies are Thursday, Dec. 12–Saturday, Dec. 14 at Fertitta Center and Cullen Performance Hall. Click here for times and parking information.
Marko Jovanovic, 18: The Computer Science Star
Marko Jovanovic has accomplished a lot in his young life. For starters, he built his first computer from scratch – “case, motherboard and all”– with his father at the age of six and began coding a few years later. Now 18, Jovanovic will earn a Bachelor of Science in computer science – with cum laude status – from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Jovanovic is the youngest member of the UH fall 2019 graduating class, which is no surprise to those who know this homeschooled wunderkind, who at 13, received a high school diploma and started classes at Lone Star College. At 16, Jovanovic transferred to UH where he made an impact as a student and teacher. Jovanovic says his most memorable moment at UH was when he stepped into the laboratory for the very first time as an undergraduate teaching assistant to lead a computer science course on programming and data structures.
“Everyone’s eyes were on me, it was a weird feeling,” he explained. “It was up to me to teach them. I was still a student, but now I was teaching my fellow classmates as a TA.”
This Cougar was destined for a career in computer science, and he already has a job lined up for the new year. Pariveda, a strategic services and information technology consulting firm, was so impressed with his skills he was hired as a consultant.
“I’d say I am going to be a professional problem solver,” he said. “I look forward to making even more of an impact on people’s lives.”
Curtis Mooney, 72: The Lifelong Learner
The definition of a lifelong learner is someone who actively seeks opportunities to grow and believes it’s never too late to start something. That sums up Curtis Mooney. And at 72, Mooney will graduate from the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences with his second Ph.D. — a doctorate in American history with a concentration in health care. Mooney’s first doctorate, a Ph.D in social work, came from the University of Texas at Arlington.
“I always loved to learn, and the classroom was where I excelled. I was the oldest of four children and the first person in my family to graduate college,” explained the United States Air Force Vietnam veteran, who also holds a master’s in social work from Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Western Kentucky University.
Each qualification Mooney earned was a stepping-stone to a successful 35-year career helping children in foster care. That included a longtime position as CEO of DePelchin Children’s Center, the largest private children’s mental health and child welfare agency in Texas. He was also president of Kentucky’s largest private residential child welfare program.
“I always pushed to do more for the child who had the least opportunity.”
Shortly after retiring from DePelchin in 2011, Mooney went back to the classroom to pursue a doctorate with a research focus on the history of the treatment of mental illness in the U.S. After graduation he plans to take a short break by going on a couple of trips with his wife. Then it’s back to the books, but this time Mooney hopes to teach a few courses at a college near his hometown of Frisco in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“Right now, this is my time. I can do what I want with it. I spent far more hours and probably put more into my schooling and studies than any job I ever had, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Degrees awarded for summer/fall 2019:
- 4,979 university-wide
- 3,769 bachelors
- 963 masters
- 204 doctoral
- 43 professional
Click here to see the fall 2019 commencement dates and locations.