Hispanic Heritage Month: John and Mary Espinoza on Embracing Culture


Throughout National Hispanic Heritage Month, the University of Houston recognizes the contributions and influences of our Hispanic and Latinx community. As we celebrate, the UH College of Technology wanted to highlight two UH alumni who have contributed to the university’s success—John and Mary Espinoza.

John Espinoza, a 1977 graduate from the College of Technology, has over 40 years of experience as a project engineer. As such, Espinoza has managed flood control projects for the City of San Marcos, Texas, and has served as a member of the UH Alumni Association Foundation.

Mary Espinoza is a 1980 graduate of the UH College of Pharmacy, caring and informing Texan clients on their health care needs for her entire career. Currently, she serves as a member of the College of Pharmacy’s Dean’s Advisory Council.

High school sweethearts now married for nearly 40 years, the Espinoza’s connection to the college spans almost as long. In 2018, the couple became a part of the UH College of Pharmacy Mading Society as Visionary Donors.

The College of Technology is grateful for the generosity of the Espinoza’s and their passion for UH. 

One of the University of Houston’s core values is creating unity within diversity. What does it mean to you both to embrace your culture at UH? 

From our first time at UH, we were introduced to the diversity of students and cultures. It was a great experience. Being a part of the UH community helped us expand and embrace the diversity of our own culture. Being proud of our background helped us to expand our children’s world and experiences.  

John, you graduated from a STEM college in the ‘70s. Tell me about your experience as a Latino undergraduate student and your time at the College of Technology

I was born and raised in Victoria, Texas, which is approximately 50% Hispanic. Initially, I enrolled at Victoria College and transferred to UH and the College of Technology. During my time at UH, I lived on campus and was introduced to so much diversity-students that came from many different places.  At that time, there was a group on campus that promoted Hispanic traditions, including hosting small concerts with Spanish music. I had a great experience at UH that I will always remember.   

espinoza-2Mary, why is it important to have a strong Latina presence like yourself in every community?

Being a woman and a Latina in the pharmacy community is a statement of “si se puede.” Being able to communicate and counsel Latino patients has been very rewarding. 

As a couple, you left a gift for future students of the College of Technology and the College of Pharmacy. What motivated you to make that investment in future Coogs?

Both of us feel that without the education we received from the University of Houston, we would not be where we are now. Even though we were busy with our careers and family, we both thought it was important to give back to UH. Ideally, if we can help future students, maybe they will feel the same in the future and give back to UH.

 As proud alumni, how do you both continue to show your Cougar spirit?

We continue to support UH as much as possible by not only donating time and treasure, but participating in UH events, either conducted by the main campus or ones we initiated ourselves.  We have helped with watch parties, golf tournaments, banquets, receptions, and meetings. We organize new student receptions in San Antonio for San Antonio-based incoming freshmen at UH and give everyone the opportunity to network, meet new people and discuss the students’ move to Houston. Our passion for the university continues to stay strong.