Commencement Speakers

Maurice Cox

Maurice Cox

Maurice Cox is an unwavering champion for the betterment of cities and their communities.

His story began in one of the world’s biggest metropolises: New York City, where he was born and received an architecture degree from The Cooper Union. His early career included 10 years working as a professor at Syracuse University in Florence, Italy, and as an architect alongside his wife, Giovanna Galfione. Upon returning to the United States, he was a professor at the University of Virginia School of Architecture while also serving for eight years in local government in Charlottesville, first as a city councilor, and then as mayor. With his leadership and successful implementation of planning initiatives, Charlottesville became consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the U.S.

From there, Cox served in Washington, D.C., as design director of the National Endowment for the Arts under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama before returning to academia at Tulane University as the associate dean for community engagement and director of the Small Center for Collaborative Design.

Cox then took on the role of planning director for the city of Detroit, prior to being named as Chicago’s Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. Here in Chicago, Cox initiated and oversaw a major commitment to rebuilding neighborhoods. The Invest South/West Program addresses the imbalance of resources in the city’s neighborhoods by prioritizing investment in historically disinvested communities. With more than a billion dollars in public funding, this initiative seeks to rebuild neglected commercial corridors to better support their adjacent residential neighborhoods. More recently he designed The Come Home Program, an initiative designed to bring departed residents back into city neighborhoods. And LaSalle Street Re-Imagined was initiated to convert LaSalle Street office buildings into more than 1,000 residential units, a third of which are reserved as affordable.

DesignIntelligence has recognized Cox as one of the “most admired design educators in America,” and Fast Company magazine lauded him as one of “20 Masters of Design” in the U.S. He is a recipient of the Henry Hope Reed Award, which is given to an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture, and art. He was also inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Jenny Just

Co-founder and Managing Partner, PEAK6

Jenny Just

Jenny Just is a visionary, powerhouse, and one of the few self-made female billionaires in the United States. From the days of cutting her teeth on the trading floor in Chicago to now running a fintech empire, she has started and/or turned around more than 15 companies.

Just co-founded PEAK6 in 1997 with $1.5 million in seed capital as a proprietary options trading firm and since then has grown it into a multibillion-dollar financial services and technology giant housing the next generation of products and service brands. These include PEAK6 Capital Management, PEAK6 Strategic Capital, Apex Fintech Solutions, PEAK6 InsurTech, and Zogo.

With a true knack for unearthing talent and opportunities, Just looks for underfunded and underappreciated sectors to transform into high-growth businesses. Her passion specifically lies in finding opportunities for women to succeed at every table—from the classroom, to the conference room, to the poker room, to the boardroom.

This passion led her to launch Poker Power in 2020 with her daughter Juliette, a woman-led company that teaches poker to all who identify as female, and by extension, teaches women strategic thinking, capital allocation, and decision-making skills. Additionally, Just has created programs to help women advance their careers, including the Women’s Trading Experience and Women’s Technology Experience. She currently serves on the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Just’s remarkable success has earned her a number of accolades, including being named to Forbes’ list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, Forbes 50 over 50, and Worth’s Groundbreaking Women. She was also the recipient of the Women’s Poker Association’s Industry Innovation Recognition Award and received a Tony Award for her involvement in Memphis the Musical.

Student Speakers

Muntaha Imteyaz

Candidate for the Degrees of Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and Bachelor of Architecture

Muntaha Imteyaz

“I think architecture and engineering are two sides of the same coin. You really can’t have one without the other,” says Muntaha Imteyaz (B.ARCH., B.S. AE ’24), one of the few Illinois Institute of Technology students to pursue the Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering dual degree.

Originating from India but frequently moving from city to city in the Middle East during her upbringing, Imteyaz found herself drawn to the captivating structures surrounding her. Fueled by her passion for math and interior design, she was propelled toward both architecture and engineering.

In her pursuit, Imteyaz was often told to pick one discipline over the other. Refusing to conform to traditional boundaries, “I decided that I don’t want to make a decision,” she says. “I feel like I’m a better architect because of my engineering classes, and I’m a better engineer because of my architecture classes.”

What she enjoys most about the two disciplines is “the challenge to solve complex problems in ways that defy regular conventions.”

During her six years at Illinois Tech, Imteyaz immersed herself in the community—taking on roles as president of Society of Women Engineers, lead international mentor for the First-Year Mentors program, and a senior resident adviser on campus.

Post graduation, Imteyaz looks forward to joining the consulting engineering firm, CMTA in Lexington, Kentucky. However, her heart anticipates an eventual return to the vibrant city of Chicago—a city she hopes to call home once again.

Collin Matthew Standish

Candidate for the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Psychological Science, Bachelor of Science in Biology, and recipient of the Ray S. Dewey Endowed Scholarship

Commencement Student Speaker Collin Standish

When Collin Standish (B.S. BIOL, PSYS ’24) was a sophomore in high school in Tinley Park, Illinois, his father went into cardiac arrest while helping to coach a soccer practice. With his mother spending much of her time at the hospital, Standish had to look after his ten-year-old brother at home.

“My father is doing well today, but it was a scary time, and it identified this drive within me that I carried through the rest of high school. Being there to care for others and support them is something that I wanted to do in the future,” Standish says.

He arrived at Illinois Tech as a Camras scholar in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but quickly discovered a campus full of opportunity and support. He quickly found his stride: He assisted in research on neurodegenerative diseases as a first-year student with Professor of Biology Jialing Xiang, worked on an ambulance as an emergency medical responder, and volunteered with a hospice care organization near his home in Tinley Park, in addition to traveling to Ecuador with the Illinois Tech MEDLIFE Chapter to help provide medical services to the local villages.

“My time at Illinois Tech has rewarded me with a solid basis in biology and psychological science, and it’s so tight-knit and close here. The friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime,” Standish says.

Standish’s goal is to attend medical school, and he plans on gaining additional experience in the medical field after graduation.