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Lone Star College-Montgomery announces “final four” student commencement speakers

Final Four Commencement Speakers 

March Madness may be over, but Lone Star College-
Montgomery is excited to announce its “final four,” four students in the running to give the student address at commencement. The students are: Hope Bennett, Natalia Hazelwood, Jeremy Martinez and Riley Young.

“I was so impressed with the submissions from Hope, Natalia, Jeremy and Riley,” said Dr. Rebecca Riley, president of LSC-Montgomery. “Each demonstrated commitment to his or her academic goals and also inspired the whole graduating class to make a difference in the lives of the people around them. The community will enjoy hearing the winner’s speech at commencement.”  

LSC-Montgomery is excited to announce Riley Young has been selected to address his peers at graduation Friday, May 13, at The Woodlands Church. “I am so proud to be giving the commencement speech,” said Young. “The honor to speak to my peers and mentors is a treasure I will always hold close to my heart.”


Young plans to transfer to pursue a bachelor’s degree at either the University of Houston or Sam Houston State University. He will study communications and political science. His goal is to become a press secretary or campaign manager for future political campaigns and candidates. He is grateful for the opportunity to have completed a political internship during his time at LSC-Montgomery. “Getting to apply what I learned in the classroom while actively participating in politics gave me a lot of confidence in my education and my career path. It also left me with invaluable real world experience,” said Young. “I hope to use and build upon my experiences to accomplish the dreams I've had since I was a child." 


On campus Young works as a Maverick Leader. “I attribute my accomplishments to my faith, family and the LSC-Montgomery faculty, especially professor Mike Devoley, Dr. Fiona Ross and the entire Admissions and Outreach teams,” said Young. “I appreciate their high level of dedication to my growth in and out of the classroom.

Hope Bennett studied human services and chemical dependency counseling at LSC-Montgomery. She is graduating summa cum laude and has received the Monaghan Transfer Scholarship and a Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship to continue her education at the University of Saint Thomas.


“I have learned current, relevant skills during my time at LSC-Montgomery that have allowed me to graduate as a licensed, employable, dependency counselor,” said Bennett. “LSC-Montgomery provided state test prep clinics, career planning and the highest level of education of any two year college. I'm so happy to be graduating and moving to the next level on my education with this experience.”


Bennett overcame many obstacles to finish her education. “During my time at LSC-Montgomery I was injured in an accident,” said Bennett. “I had three major surgeries that left me permanently disabled while I was enrolled in classes full time. There were days I had to be wheeled into class, but I never gave up. I read books and wrote class papers from my hospital bed. I fought hard to stay in school and finish.”


On campus Bennett served as the president of the honors society, Phi Theta Kappa; Vice President of the national psychology honors society, Psi Beta; and she is on the board of directors for the LSC-Montgomery Food Bank.


“I'd like to thank my family for encouraging and inspiring me,” said Bennett. “I’d also like to thank everyone at Lone Star for believing in me. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

Natalia Hazelwood plans to transfer to study international relations and reach her ultimate goal of working as a diplomat or ambassador.

“My time at LSC-Montgomery has been tremendously helpful in pursuit of my goals,” said Hazelwood. “I appreciate the staff and faculty members who took timeout of their busy schedules to sit down with me to give me positive, encouraging advice."

Hazelwood grew up in the foster care system, an experience that provided her with the unique opportunity to practice perseverance in the face of hardship. She went to LSC in 2007, but ended that semester with a low GPA. She decided to take time off school to focus on self-growth and develop her dreams. When she came back to LSC-Montgomery in 2015, she was a different person. “After learning from past mistakes, I returned with a focused determination,” said Hazelwood. “I have seen inequality and injustice in my past, so my goal is to advocate for human rights everywhere. I continually use this passion to drive me toward success."

On campus Hazelwood was a senator in Student Government, she participated in National Model U.N. and Rotaract Club. She also completed an internship with the Woodlands Chamber of Commerce.

Hazelwood has been married for six years and has a 2-year-old daughter. “Balancing school and family life is a juggle and I am constantly trying to squeeze in as much time with them as I can. Every semester we navigate a new rhythm. I am thankful for their support and sacrifice to help me accomplish my lifelong dream of promoting a better world.”

Jeremy Martinez is an Honors College Fellow at LSC-Montgomery. He has been accepted to several four-year universities and is deciding where to transfer to study engineering. His ultimate goal is to start his own firm.


“LSC-Montgomery made me a better overall student,” said Martinez. “I learned how to write a research paper, draft a thesis and make presentations. Lone Star really gives you all the tools necessary to succeed and it is up to you to take them and run with it. I knew I would have more opportunities coming to LSC-Montgomery as opposed to being a small fish in a big pool at a four-year college right out of high school. Having the smaller classes and more professor interaction, I was able to better adjust to the college life and the college workload.”


On campus Martinez is the Honors College student organization president and he loves to play football with the club team.


Martinez looks up to his grandfather who founded and owned the Houston restaurant, Spanish Flowers. “My Grandpa always taught me to make a good first impression,” said Martinez. “I never saw him without pleated pants and nicely ironed shirt. Before we went out, he would always have me iron my jeans, even my t-shirts. I try to model my work ethic after his because he was always ready to do the work that need to be done. At the restaurant if somebody wasn’t available to do a task he had no problem doing it, whether that was cooking or cleaning the restrooms, he would jump in and do the work.”

LSC-Montgomery is located at 3200 College Park Drive, one-half mile west of Interstate 45, between Conroe and The Woodlands. For more information about the college, call 936.273.7000, or visit LoneStar.edu/Montgomery.


Known for its leadership, innovation and steadfast commitment to student success, Lone Star College provides high-quality academic transfer and workforce education / career training programs to more than 83,000 credit students each semester, and a total enrollment of 95,000 students. LSC is training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the community college experience to promote student success and economic prosperity. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., is the chancellor of LSC, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, which consists of six colleges, eight centers, two university centers, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.