John Hurtado Will Welcome New Texas A&M Students at Freshman Convocation Aug. 26

COLLEGE STATION, Aug. 14, 2012 – Texas A&M University will officially welcome its Class of 2016 during Freshman Convocation at 2:30 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 26) in Reed Arena with a keynote address by Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering John Hurtado.

The convocation ceremony is a formal welcoming of new students with all the pomp and circumstance of the commencement ceremonies that will close their time as students a few years in the future. From the colorful spectacle of the opening faculty processional to the symbols and traditions of academia and words of encouragement from accomplished professors, organizers say the event is planned to be a memorable and exciting start for new students and help them to focus on the academic aspects of Texas A&M. The program communicates to students their roles both as people who learn from others and as people who contribute to the vitality of the university, they add.

Just as with commencement ceremonies, parents and families are invited to attend the hour-long convocation program, which also will include remarks by Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin. Faculty members from academic departments will join Loftin, the provost and vice presidents in representing the university’s involvement and commitment to its newest students. To emphasize the formality of the occasion, all faculty representatives will be dressed in full academic regalia.

Hurtado, a first-generation college student and a son of farm laborers, grew up associating the words "college" and "university" solely with athletics and did not enter college until he was 20 years old, beginning with a few classes at a community college. With the support of some of his instructors and a community college counselor, he transferred to San Diego State University, where professors guided him and introduced him to additional education opportunities. He earned a bachelor's degree from San Diego State, and master's and Ph.D. degrees from Texas A&M, all in aerospace engineering. An Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Hurtado holds three U.S. patents.

In 2011, he worked with a freshman who won first place in Student Research Week. He has mentored an undergraduate team that participated in NASA's microgravity competition, and he has guided numerous undergraduates through directed studies and the prestigious Undergraduate Research Scholars intensive research program. He has also recently mentored an undergraduate during a summer research program at Sandia National Laboratories. Because of his mentorship, many of these undergraduate students decided to transition into graduate school.

A popular and highly rated professor in the classroom, Hurtado serves as a faculty adviser for the AIAA student chapter and as a mentor in the NASA MUST (Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology) program.

Aerospace engineering department head Dimitris Lagoudas said that Hurtado's love for, and success in teaching has resulted in him receiving teaching awards at departmental, college and university levels.

“Hurtado's message is of hope and inspiration and the difference that one person can make in your life," Lagoudas said. "His teachers and professors put him on a course to be successful, and they have dramatically changed his life from what it could have been. He transfers this hope, inspiration, and encouragement to undergraduate students on a daily basis through his role as professor."

Members of the Class of 2016 and their families are invited to attend a Freshman Convocation luncheon at Sbisa Dining Center. Food Service will be available from 10:45 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. University representatives will be on hand for informal conversation with new students and their families.

Tickets may be purchased in advance online, or in person at the MSC Box Office. Ticket prices are $9.25 for adults, $6 for children 4-10 years old, and free for children 3 and under. To purchase tickets online, click here:

Tickets may be purchased on the day of the Freshman Convocation Lunch at Sbisa Dining Center.

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