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LETU Names Commencement Speakers for May 8 and May 15 Ceremonies


LeTourneau University will host two commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 8, in Longview and one ceremony Saturday, May 15, in Houston.

The two commencement ceremonies that will be held in Longview at the S. E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center, 2100 S. Mobberly Ave., will feature keynote speaker Baylor University Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering Walter L. Bradley.

The first ceremony will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 8, for nearly 220 traditional-age college students who will receive their bachelor's degrees from the School of Aeronautical Science, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Education, School of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

The second ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 8, for working adult students from LETU's nontraditional programs at Longview and from sites across the state and online. Over 130 students will receive bachelor degrees, with an additional 20 receiving MBA degrees, 11 receiving Master of Educational Leadership degrees, and 2 earning Master of Education degrees.

In Houston, LETU will host a commencement ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 15, for over 130 total graduates from the Houston and Austin Education Centers, including 14 MBA candidates. The Houston commencement will be held at Houston First Baptist Church, 7401 Katy Freeway, and will feature keynote speaker Texas gubernatorial candidate and LETU alumna Debra Medina.

Longview commencement speaker Walter Bradley earned his Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science and his Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of Texas in Austin. For eight years he taught at the Colorado School of Mines, then served for 24 years as a professor of mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University.

He has been at Baylor for five years where his research efforts at Baylor focus on helping the poorest people in under developed parts of the world to help themselves by providing them with appropriate technologies. For example, he is developing various means to convert the constituent parts of coconuts into value-added products such as diesel fuel, particle board, non-woven fabric composites for automotive parts. His keen interest in faith and science informs his view of God's majesty and glory in a much more profound way and propels his goal to help others see that the more we learn about God's creation through the eyes of science, the more faith it takes to be an atheist.

Bradley served as head of the TAMU mechanical engineering department and director of its Polymer Technology Center. He won five research awards and received more than $5 million in research grants. His publishing credentials include more than 150 technical articles and book chapters. Bradley is a Fellow of the American Society for Materials and of the American Scientific Affiliation and serves as a consultant for many Fortune 500 companies including Exxon, 3M, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Shell, Chevron-Phillips and Boeing.

Bradley also co-authored one of the seminal books in the Intelligent Design movement, The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories published in 1984 by the secular publisher Philosophical Library. He has subsequently published 17 other articles or book chapter on various aspects of faith and science, including some with secular publishers.

Houston commencement speaker Debra Medina was dubbed the "wild card" and even a "spoiler" in the recent Republican gubernatorial primary race, running against incumbent Governor Rick Perry and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison for the Republican seat on the ticket. Her bid for governor was boosted significantly after she performed strongly in televised debates and campaign money began to pour in.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul described Medina as a "loving wife, home school mother of two talented honor students and a successful business owner." Paul, for whom she campaigned during his 2008 presidential campaign, called her a "true success story and role model for Texans across our state."

A native of Beeville, Texas, she grew up on a farm, where her family raised most of their own food. Medina was active in her high school Future Farmers of America program. She earned her nursing degree from Baptist Memorial Hospital System School of Nursing in San Antonio in 1984 and worked as a registered nurse before starting her own business. Medina earned her Bachelor of Business Management degree from LeTourneau University in 1995 at LETU's Houston Education Center. In 2002, she started her medical billing company, Prudentia, Inc. near her home in Wharton, Texas.

Entering politics in the 1990s, she served as the Wharton County GOP chair before throwing her hat into the governor's race this past fall. Medina ran her grass-roots campaign as an ordinary citizen. Considered a pro-life candidate, she focused on defending the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, restoring government's role of being responsive to the people, with limitations on federal control of the states. "Tea Party" groups seeking fiscal conservatism applauded her plan to repeal property taxes in deference to a broader based sales tax to fund state and local government services. Her platform focused on restoring state sovereignty, securing state borders and defending the Second Amendment freedom of the right for citizens to bear firearms. Medina's message resonated with Texans as polls reported that she was within 4 percentage points of Hutchison and 15 percentage points behind Perry.

Medina and her husband, Noe, have two grown children, Janise, 25, and Jacob, 21. Her cultural heritage is German and Bohemian, and her last name is of Mexican-American ancestry.

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