Wrapping Up a Merry 2019 and Focusing on a Bright New 2020

By John Willis, MIAT College of Technology Houston Campus President


What an amazing year 2019 has proven to be for our Houston campus! As this calendar year is wrapping up and attention now turns to what will certainly be a bright New Year, I am pausing with an “attitude of gratitude” for all the blessings that our faculty, staff, students, and alumni have been honored to have received.  Together, we have accomplished much in 2019. Together we will accomplish even more in 2020! Readers of this blog will be among the first to know about several major announcements that will be coming early in the New Year!

MIAT’s Houston campus expansion is one of the highlights of 2019.  We set a record for graduates at the Houston campus with 163 students  completing their course of study. These graduates and all of those who have graduated before them will make a positive impact on generations of family members for decades!

Our most recent  graduation ceremony on Friday, December 13, was the first ever held “off campus.”  Even with the significantly larger campus facility we now have, we needed additional space to accommodate  a memorable ceremony for our graduates, faculty, staff, family and friends. Fortunately, we found a venue that was perfect for the occasion!

More than 300 supporters packed Harvest Time Church in Houston only a few miles away from our Houston campus, and 60 graduates crossed the stage to accept their diplomas and certificates of completion.  We were also privileged to have Khambrel Marshall, KPRC TV meteorologist and host of the Houston Newsmakers public affairs show, as our commencement speaker. Khambrel is a treasure in the City of Houston. Not only does he have  a distinguished career in broadcast news, but he is also an enthusiastic community leader and volunteer who contributes his time and talent to many causes.  Khambrel offered words of encouragement to our graduates. He also openly shared some of the challenges and disappointments that he faced at various times in his life and how he addressed them.

Today, I am sharing an excerpt from the remarks I delivered at the Winter 2019 commencement ceremony for your review at your convenience.  

Our students will be on break for the  holidays beginning Friday, December 20. Classes will resume on Monday, January 6.  New classes will begin on January 28. If you are interested in touring the campus and learning more about how to get started, please visit MIAT.edu.

On behalf of all of us to all of you, we wish you the happiest of holiday celebrations and the brightest of New Years!

Excerpts of Remarks by John Willis delivered at the MIAT College of Technology Houston Winter 2019 Graduation Ceremony

Good afternoon, graduates, family and friends, as President I would like to welcome you to the Winter Graduation Ceremony for MIAT College of Technology.  This is a historic graduation as it is the first in the history of the Houston campus to be held off site. 2019 has been an extraordinary year of growth for us.  I think all of you for your patience with the construction of our new expansion and of course at times cramped parking. But growth is exciting, and it speaks to the desire of so many to enter these fields and the tremendous opportunities you have ahead.

This past week, I attended the funeral for my 91-year-old grandmother.  I was asked to deliver her eulogy. What occurred to me as I wrote the eulogy was that someday someone will be writing mine.  Someday someone will be writing one for every person in this room. And it will be in those few minutes that who you were and what you stood for will be remembered.   That is pretty sobering. There are lots of words people could use to describe someone’s life. But I would encourage you to strive to have the following said about you “in every instance they tried to make someone else’s life better.”  Because that is what it should all be about. No matter the career path you choose you can make a difference. This past July marked my 22nd year in education. And people often ask why I chose this field and it is simple. At the end of the day, I know I had the opportunity to make decisions to make someone’s life better.  As educators, it is critical we know that what we do is “Generational.” Much like the ripples of a pebble in a pond, it is almost impossible to see how far our impact reaches with our graduates. Our student population is a mix of recent high school graduates, single parents, first generation college students and of course veterans who have returned home from service to write the next chapter in our lives. Although the decisions and education that we provide impact them, we also must know that it can impact their children and their children’s children on their views of the pursuit of education.  


As we move into 2020 my focus next year is to “Be Generational” always.   And I hope you adopt that mindset, too. Understand that your choices should not always be about the present, but what are you doing to make sure that you are impacting the lives of your children and children’s children in a positive way.  You have already shown that by choosing to better yourself through education. Education has been called “the great equalizer” in America. It allows anyone regardless of their beginnings; the opportunity to improve themselves both personally, financially and professionally.  Graduates today is a culmination and a celebration of your ability to manage your most precious resource……. time. When you enter MIAT this day is not a given…… it is earned. It is earned in every lab, every test and every minute of every day you are here. For some of you that is over 2000 hours.  I often refer to our schedule as “the grind”. Very few educational institutions require as much “time on task,” But we do that to ensure that you have the skills and attitude to face your newfound career. It is designed to be a challenge, but you should have a sense of pride that you accepted it and completed it.  

For those of you who have earned a post-secondary degree or training, I would ask you this.   If you were able to live your life over again with everything being equal, but the only thing different is that I take away your education, “Would your life be better?”  I think we can almost assuredly answer “No.” It is my hope that by bettering yourself, this commitment that you have made will be a catalyst to inspire others in your family, friends and  maybe even colleagues in your workplace to pursue education. Be generational. 


2019 marks the 50th anniversary of MIAT College of Technology.  Over those 50 years our graduates have left us and gone to achieve their dreams in the trades industries.   You now join those countless graduates from Michigan and Texas to pursue your goals. I hope as you enter the workplace you continue to stay connected with us.  Let us know how you are doing, how we can help and take time to come back and encourage the next group of future MIAT graduates. Be Generational.