Katie Samuels, who grew up in Alaska but found Louisiana Tech as a high school senior, will serve as keynote speaker for the University’s winter commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, in the Thomas Assembly Center on the Tech campus.
Family and friends unable to attend commencement can watch the event via Facebook Live.
Samuels earned her undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees in 1986 and 1988 respectively, after choosing Tech because of its degree programs, “great value, and warm weather,” Samuels, a graduate of Service High in Anchorage, said.
“Back then, we looked through these five-inch books of information about colleges that were sorted by all sorts of things,” she said. “My mom is originally from Arkansas, so that was the tie-breaker between two schools. Choosing Tech was the biggest decision I had made up to that time; it’s still one of the best decisions. Tech is the only school I applied to.”
Samuels began her professional career with Atlantic Richfield in Alaska in 1988. There she met her husband, Blake. Her early years were deeply technical, and she still enjoys unraveling complex issues.
The next move was to Jakarta, Indonesia, where her primary role was training the local early-career engineers in technical evaluation and critical thinking skills. This immersion in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual environment was some of her favorite work and guided her later philanthropic direction.
Other pursuits took the Samuels to Oxford, England, and then to Houston, where Samuels held senior roles for Australian petroleum company BHP.
Samuels left the oil industry after 20 years to allow more time to give back directly. She has recorded books, newspapers, and even a math textbook for vision-impaired clients as a volunteer for the non-profit Sight into Sound organization. She’s traveled to various universities to facilitate personal and professional improvement sessions through the Tau Beta Pi organization.
Tech has remained a core philanthropic passion for her. In addition to financial support, Samuels currently serves as President of the Louisiana Tech University Foundation Board.
As a Tech student, she was a member of numerous student organizations, worked her way through school, and avidly supported the Bulldogs and Lady Techsters.
In her downtime, Samuels enjoys trying to keep up with her nieces and nephews, and practicing Pilates and triathlon.