U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions

U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions, who represents Texas' 17th Congressional District, will deliver the commencement address during SFA’s graduation ceremonies Dec. 15 and 16 in Johnson Coliseum.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions, who represents Texas' 17th Congressional District, will deliver the commencement address during Stephen F. Austin State University’s graduation ceremonies Dec. 15 and 16 in Johnson Coliseum.

“I am honored and thrilled to have Congressman Sessions speak during our December commencement ceremonies — the first ceremonies SFA will have as a member of The University of Texas System,” said SFA Interim President Gina Oglesbee. “We hope that our graduates are inspired by his words and walk across the stage with even more motivation to be strong leaders.”

A native of Waco, Sessions attended Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio, and later graduated from Southwestern University in Georgetown in 1978. After earning a degree and before his involvement in Congress, Sessions worked for the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company for 16 years.

During his 24 years in Congress, Sessions has served in various leadership roles and accomplished many successes within the Republican Party, including helping the Republican House of Representatives majority balance the federal budget from 1998 to 2001.

Sessions also was chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee from 2009 through 2012 in which he directed the party to regain the majority in the House of Representatives. In 2010, Sessions received a 63-seat victory and served as chairman of the House Committee on Rules from 2013 through 2019. For his leadership on behalf of Texas, he received an honorary doctorate from Dallas Baptist University.

Sessions notably sponsored and passed the Border Tunnel Task Force Act as a directorate to identify illegal tunneling operations on the southern border, as well as the Family Opportunity Act, which allows families of medically stressed children to receive complete health care. The bill became law in 2006 after Sessions and his son, Alex, worked with President George W. Bush.

Sessions has served in various national and local leadership roles with the Boy Scouts of America, disability assistance and local conservation groups. He also served on Southwestern University board of trustees for 12 years.

Sessions lives in Waco and is married to Karen Sessions. He is the father of two sons, Bill and Alex, and three stepsons, Conor, Liam and Nicholas.

SFA’s December commencement will be split into three ceremonies. Candidates from the Nelson Rusche College of Business and James I. Perkins College of Education’s Department of Education Studies will participate at 6 p.m. Dec. 15.

Candidates from the Micky Elliott College of Fine Arts, Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, and three areas in the Perkins College of Education — School of Human Sciences, Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership, and Department of Kinesiology and Health Science — will participate at 9 a.m. Dec. 16.

Candidates from the College of Liberal and Applied Arts and the College of Sciences and Mathematics will participate at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 16.

The coliseum will open an hour before each ceremony begins. Each graduation candidate will be allotted a limited number of tickets, which are needed for entry into the event.

Degrees to be awarded include 814 bachelor’s degrees, 135 master’s degrees. Over 300 students will graduate with honors, including 83 cum laude, 93 magna cum laude and 156 summa cum laude. Ten students will graduate with the university scholar designation.

For more information, visit the commencement website


Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website.