Topic Descriptions

Wisdom begins in wonder Socrates

LetsTalk32 - EngagingLetsTalk23 - InteractiveLetsTalk22 - Personal

Engaging                        Interactive                           Personal


Topics Include:

1. School of Hard Knocks SOLD OUT
2. Giant Leaps and Biggest Milestones of Human Spaceflight SOLD OUT
3. National Level Leadership: What I've Learned SOLD OUT
4. The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend SOLD OUT
5. ISIS & 15 years of the Counterterror War: Understanding the Threat SOLD OUT
6. The National Parks Photography Project: Celebrating the Centennial SOLD OUT
7. Live Smart, Retire Rich SOLD OUT
8. Love Ya Blue: Remembering the Houston Oilers
9. Overcoming Adversity to Become a Leader: The Monzer Hourani Story SOLD OUT
10. The Other Texas Oil: Olive Oil SOLD OUT
11. A Grand Affair: THe Grand 1894 Opera House SOLD OUT
12. The First Season
13. From Funk to Freedom: How to Get your Life and Buisness Under Control
14. Murder I Write SOLD OUT
15. The Iron Chef: A Recipe For Success SOLD OUT
16. Dancing to the Top
17. Texas Tiny Houses: Building the Future With the Past SOLD OUT
18. The Future is Here: The Port of Houston Authority
19. Tales of Texas Cooking: Stories & Recipes from the Trans Pecos to the Piney Woods, etc
20. Things that Go Bump in the Night: Debunking Paranormal Activity SOLD OUT
21. The Flip Side: Break Free of the Behaviors that Hold You Back SOLD OUT
22. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Fighting To Win

1.“School of Hard Knocks:  The Concussion Controversy”


Dr. Summer Ott – Concussion Program Director at the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute; Assistant Professor in the Department of  Orthopedic Surgery at University of Texas Health Science Center; and Neuropsychologist for the Houston Texans

As long as football has been a sport, people have questioned whether concussions caused by high-impact, contact sports can cause serious long-term neurological damage if not properly treated. The National Institutes of Health has declared that concussions are a leading cause of death among young adults and has said that current tests cannot reliably identify concussions. Join Dr. Summer Ott as she shares what she’s learned as neuropsychologist for the Houston Texans and as a founding member of the national organization, the Sport Neuropsychology Society.

For more information on Dr Summer Ott, visit here.

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2.“Giant Leaps and Biggest Milestones of Human Spaceflight”


Tommy Holloway – Retired Manager of NASA’S International Space Station Program

The 536 people who have left Earth to travel into space make up a very exclusive and elite club, and the group of astronauts that has traveled outside of Earth’s orbit is even smaller. A veteran engineer, an expert in flight activities and planning, and a senior NASA manager, he has left his mark on the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Space Shuttle/MIR and Space Station programs. Mr. Holloway has received numerous awards, including the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement and the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement. Travel through space and time as Mr. Holloway shares some of the biggest milestones of human spaceflight.

For more information on Tommy Holloway, visit here.

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3.“National Level Leadership: What I’ve Learned”

Alberto Gonzales – Attorney; Former Counsel to George W. Bush; and Former U. S. Attorney General

Alberto Gonzales, along with his seven siblings, was raised in a small two-bedroom house with no telephone or hot running water in Humble. After enlisting in the Air Force, he attended the Air Force Academy before transferring to Rice University. He received his law degree from Harvard Law and launched his career as the first Hispanic partner at the Houston law firm Vinson and Elkins. He began advising then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and would later go on to serve as his 80th U.S. Attorney General. Listen as Alberto Gonzales shares the lessons he learned throughout his time in the White House, as well as some of his favorite memories.

For more information on Alberto Gonzales, visit here.

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4.“The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend”


Glenn Frankel – Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist

Cynthia Ann Parker was just 9 years old when she kidnapped by the Comanche. She lived among them for 24 years, during which she married a Comanche chief, leaving her American ways behind her. At the age of 34, she was recaptured by the U.S. Calvary and returned to her American family, where she spent the remainder of her life refusing to adjust to ways she had forgotten. Join Glenn Frankel as he shares the tale that has inspired some of Hollywood’s most legendary films, including “The Searchers” and “The Biggest, Roughest, Toughest...and Most Beautiful Picture Ever Made!”

For more information on Glenn Frankel, visit here.

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5.“ISIS & 15 years of the Counterterror War: Understanding the Threat”


Philip Mudd – Former Deputy Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center and FBI National Security Branch

With the increasing threat of terrorism, Americans are more aware of national security issues than ever. Phil Mudd has served in a number of positions at the CIA Counterterrorist Center since 1992 and has worked hand-in-hand with world leaders in the fight against terrorism. After the Sept. 11 attacks, he left his position as director for gulf affairs on the White House National Security Council and became a member of the small diplomatic team that helped piece together a new government for Afghanistan. Using his many years of experience analyzing and fighting terrorism, Phil will share what he knows about ISIS and the serious threat they pose to the free world.

For more information on Philip Mudd, visit here.

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6.“The National Parks Photography Project: Celebrating the Centennial – 1916-2016”


Mark Burns – American Professional Landscape Photographer

Mark Burns is completing the end of a five-year journey across the United States in an effort to photograph all 59 National Parks in time for the National Park Service’s centennial celebration. The National Parks Photography Project will celebrate and pay tribute to the important role that the visual image has played in the history and creation of our national parks, honoring those painters and photographers who first put their natural beauty on canvas and film. Join Mark Burns, as he shares his favorite moments and experiences from his once-in-a-lifetime journey.

For more information on Mark Burns, visit here.

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7.“Live Smart, Retire Rich”


Daniel Goodwin – President of Provident Wealth Advisors; Author; and SHSU Alumnus Class of `84

With the ever-changing economy, Americans are more concerned than ever about their financial future. As many approach the golden age of retirement, they find themselves unprepared for the rising cost of living and their impending diminishing income. In “Live Smart, Retire Rich,” Daniel Goodwin provides advice on how to improve your financial path by utilizing the financial strategies of the wealthy. Join Daniel Goodwin as he shares his advice, for the average American who needs help with money, wishes to dispel his or her fears regarding personal finance, needs a long-term plan for the future, and wants to be on course for financial independence.

For more information on Daniel Goodwin, visit here.

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8.“Love Ya Blue: Remembering The Houston Oilers”

Elvin Bethea – Pro Football Hall of Famer and Retired Defensive End for the Houston Oilers

In the late 1970s, the Houston Oilers began a movement that would rejuvenate their fan base and encourage them to come together to celebrate the team. After fans were given a blue and white pompom to cheer on the team to victory, they began bringing “Love Ya Blue” signs to games to encourage players to fight hard and bring home the win. Elvin Bethea began and ended his professional football career as a Houston Oiler and witnessed the change brought forth by the “Love Ya Blue” movement firsthand. Hear some of Elvin Bethea’s fondest memories as a Houston Oiler as he reminisces about his time on the field.

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9.“Overcoming Adversity to Become a Leader:  The Monzer Hourani Story”

Monzer HouraniFounder, Chairman and CEO of Medistar and Architect

Monzer Hourani was born in 1943 to a Christian Lebanese family, which had a lot of land holdings in Palestine.  His family lost these land holdings during times of civil war in Palestine in 1947, and Monzer’s family faced the horrors of civil war in this entire region in the Middle East for many years. The loss of his Mother at the age of 14 was one of the most heart-wrenching times in Monzer’s life and left its mark as one of the worst horrors of war that a human being can suffer. Lebanon was later devastated by civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. Faced with all of this adversity, but dreaming of a life in the west, Monzer applied and was admitted to the University of Texas in 1965. Four years later, he graduated with degrees in architecture and structural engineering. He started his career as a structural engineer, and in 1971, he founded M. Hourani and Associates Consulting Engineers and was involved in engineering concepts which have had a great impact on the construction and economy of the building industry in the U.S. He was awarded the honor of “Outstanding Engineer of the Year” in Houston in 1973. Monzer founded Medistar Corporation in 1975, and he began his career as a commercial real estate developer. Throughout the next four decades, Monzer survived a number of major recessions, and was successful in spite of the odds being stacked against him. Medistar is now one of the most dynamic medical real estate development companies in the U.S. Join Monzer as he shares how he rebuilt his empire and became the successful businessman he is today.

For more information on Monzer Hourani, visit here.

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10.“The Other Texas Oil:  Olive Oil”


Cara and John GambiniOwners of the Texas Hill Country Olive Company

With the price of oil plummeting, many Texans are making way for the new oil in town–olive oil. The United States is one of the world’s largest consumers of olive oil, yet 97% of the country’s olive oil is produced overseas. Cara and John Gambini began preparing to join their neighbors in the business of alcohol production when they discovered that Texas olive production was a niche that was waiting to be filled. Listen as the Gambinis discuss how they’ve turned the Texas Hill Country Olive Company into an award-winning business, wedding venue, gift shop and restaurant.

For more information on Cara and John Gambini, visit here.

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11.“A Grand Affair:  The Grand 1894 Opera House”


Maureen PattonExecutive Director of The Grand 1894 Opera House

When The Grand 1894 Opera House opened in Galveston on January 3, 1895, it was the finest live performing arts theatre on the Gulf Coast, home to the largest stage in Texas and one of the largest in the country. It has survived numerous hurricanes, including the Galveston Hurricanes of 1900 and 1915, Hurricane Carla and most recently Hurricane Ike in 2008. The Grand transitioned through the vaudeville years to movie house to derelict theatre until it closed briefly in 1974 when restoration began to bring it back to the live performing arts center it was intended to be.  Maureen Patton has served as executive director of The Grand 1894 Opera House since 1981. Come along as she talks about the history of The Grand, the performers who have appeared there, resiliency in the face of disaster and what the future holds.

For more information on Maureen Patton, visit here.

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12.“The First Season”

Johnny CarterMadisonville High School Basketball Coach and KMVL Sports Commentator and SHSU Alumnus Class of `68

When Johnny Carter accepted his first basketball coaching job out of college, he found himself at Kennard High School with a mediocre and newly desegregated team. Nobody expected them to win the Texas State Championship, until they did, in their first season. Hear how Johnny Carter continued this pattern of success throughout his career, landing him a spot in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

For more information on Johnny Carter, visit here.

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13.“From Funk to Freedom:  How to Get Your Life and Business Under Control”

Barbara StewartFounder of Accelus; Certified Financial Planner; Professional Certified Coach; and SHSU Alumna Class of `88

Imagine how our lives would be different today if Bill Gates had given up on his dreams or if J.K. Rowling had stopped sending “Harry Potter” manuscripts to publishers after her 12th rejection. Barbara Stewart has worked to help individuals achieve success for more than 20 years as a financial planner for corporations such as BBVA Compass and Arthur Andersen. She left her full-time job in 2010 and founded Accelus Partners after realizing she could expand her passion for helping others by teaching them how to build smart and efficient businesses by utilizing their natural talents to achieve their goals. Hear some of Barbara Stewart’s tips on building strong employee teams and learn some of the tools she uses as a coach to help her clients build better businesses.

For more information on Barbara Stewart, visit here.

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14.“Murder I Write”

Kathryn Casey – Mystery and True Crime Author

The popularity of the podcast “Serial” and Netflix’s documentary series “Making a Murderer” has only increased people’s love of true crime series. However, Kathryn Casey became hooked while working for Houston City Magazine, where she covered her first murder case. She continued researching murder cases for magazine articles and decided to tackle her first true crime novel in 1992. To date, she has written nine true crime novels and three mystery novels. Her research has taken her across the state and even behind bars, where she sat down and interviewed main suspects. Relive some of Kathryn Casey’s favorite–and scariest–moments as she details the 30 years she spent writing about real cases, real people, and real murders. 

For more information on Kathryn Casey, visit here.

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15.“The Iron Chef:  A Recipe For Success”


Michael Frietsch – Executive Corporate Chef of Landry’s Specialty Division

A dash of dedication, a pinch of passion and a sprinkle of creativity are just some of the ingredients Michael Frietsch has used to cook up his culinary career. He’s worked in restaurants across the country, developing menus and innovative ideas to keep customers coming back for more. He’s introduced, developed and opened new restaurants, such as the Red Star Tavern and River Oaks Grill, where he was as an executive chef. He currently serves as Executive Corporate Chef for Landry’s Seafood House, where he oversees the operations of more than 25 restaurants. Join Michael Frietsch as he shares the ingredients that make up his favorite dish–success.

For more information on Michael Frietsch, visit here.

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16.“Dancing To The Top”

Andy and Dionne Noble – Owners and Artistic Directors of NobleMotion Dance Company and SHSU Professors of Dance

During the day, you can find Andy and Dionne Noble at Sam Houston State University, where they work alongside each other as dance professors. But by night, they run one of Houston’s premier contemporary dance companies. NobleMotion Dance received a bit of buzz after touring Austin and recently landed a job creating choreography for the second season of the ABC series “American Crime.” Hear how Andy and Dionne Noble were able to dance their way to the top and onto television screens across America. 

For more information on Andy & Dionne Noble, visit here.

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17.“Texas Tiny Houses:  Building the Future With the Past”

Brad Kittel Founder and Owner of Tiny Texas Houses

People all over the nation have begun trading their extravagant lifestyles for a life in smaller, more efficient spaces like tiny homes. Brad Kittel founded Tiny Texas Houses as an avenue to encourage others to not only downsize, but also to harvest the American-made materials that are often tossed aside in favor of cheaper, foreign materials. Join Brad Kittle as he discusses how he uses “pure salvage building” to create energy-efficient homes using re-harvested American-made materials built to last a lifetime.

For more information on Brad Kittel, visit here.

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18.The Future is Here:  The Port of Houston Authority”

Bill Hensel – Manager of External Communications for the Port of Houston Authority and SHSU Alumnus Class of `77

As one of the world’s busiest ports, the Port of Houston is a large and vibrant component of the regional economy. It has been instrumental in Houston’s development as a center for international trade. As manager of external communications for the Port of Houston Authority, Bill Hensel works to keep the public informed about the economic impact, involvement in the community, and overall contribution to Houston’s quality of life. Sit down with Bill Hensel as he discusses what the future holds for the Port of Houston Authority.

For more information on Bill Hensel, visit here.

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19.“Tales of Texas Cooking:  Stories and Recipes from the Trans Pecos to the Piney Woods and High Plains to the Gulf Coast”

Francis Brannen VickAuthor & Fellow of the Texas Folklore Society & the Texas State Historical Association

Davy Crockett is quoted as describing Texas as “the garden spot of the world.” With its 10 diverse vegetation regions, Texas also is fortunate to have a variety of different ethnic groups using the many native resources to create some of Texas’s most treasured dishes. From Sam Houston’s barbeque sauce to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s family cake, to John Erickson’s beef jerky and sassafras tea, the latest collection from Frances Vick will share some of the most popular recipes and stories representing the cuisine that Texans know and love.

For more information on Francis Vick, visit here.

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20.“Things That Go Bump in the Night:  Debunking Paranormal Activity”


Kenneth Rigali Research Analyst at Sam Houston State University

When Kenneth Rigali and a group of friends set out to investigate paranormal activity at various “haunted” locations across Texas, they weren’t trying to contact the dead or stir up any trapped spirits; they were trying to prove that these supernatural experiences were bogus. The group of Sam Houston State University students, known as the Scholastic League of Explorations and Examinations for Knowledge, planned to “debunk the paranormal” by providing scientific answers to what caused these experiences of which people spoke. Instead, what they found were some of the most jarring and terrifying nights of their lives. Listen as Kenneth Rigali shares some of his scariest stories of nights spent in haunted mansions, plantations, and deserted mines.

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21.“The Flip Side:  Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back”

Flip Flippen President of the Flippen Group and Author

How many times do you get to listen to a New York Times Best Selling author, a USA Today Best Selling author, Founder of the #2 Best Company to Work for in Texas and an Ernst & Young Award winner?   And, he’s from East Texas!  A man who’s helped raise 20 children and Founder of one of the world’s largest education training companies, sports/player development groups, and corporate consulting groups.  He travels, speaks, and teaches all over the world on a regular basis.  Flip will be sharing thoughts from his latest book, The Flip Side: Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back, as well as topics from his newest, soon-to-be released book.  If you think you have more in you, then this is the place to be!

For more information on Flip Flippen, visit here.

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22.“Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Fighting To Win”

Daniel RivasInstructor, Team Rivas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Daniel Rivas has been practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu for more than 17 years and is considered one of the most technical and accomplished instructors and competitors in Texas. He is the American Grappling Federation Pro No Gi Champion, Fighting 2 Win Pro Champion, Naga Pro World Champion, and Houston Open Champion. As an instructor at Team Rivas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he works with children and adults to improve their leadership skills and physical fitness, as well as to build their balance and coordination. Listen as Daniel Rivas shares some of the most important rules he teaches his clients that will improve their everyday lives.

For more information on Daniel Rivas, visit here.

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The Elliott T. Bowers Honors College

Academic Building IV Suite 201 | Box 2479 | Huntsville, Texas 77341-2479

Phone: (936) 294.1477Call: (936) 294.1477 | Fax: (936) 294.1090Call: (936) 294.1090 | Email:

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