A Glimpse of Graduation

Andrew Stark

Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering

President Daniel, Dr. Coleman, honored faculty, staff, students, and family: Iím honored to be here. After listening to Jordanís speech, Iím impressed and Iím worried Ė I think that everyone will be able to tell who the literary arts major is and who the engineer is after my speech. But no matter.

My initial thoughts about writing a graduation speech were something along the lines of: graduation means something different to everybody. Each person here comes from somewhere different, has different goals, and plans to go different places. Is there a shared experience, maybe about UTD, that I can talk about?

After today, we will experience change in our lives outside of, but based on, our common university Ė some will move on to new jobs, some will start a graduate program, and still others might even go on a vacation. Further down the road we will experience other changes as we move to a new place, start a family, or simply allow technology to affect our lives. Whatever the case, things are changing for us right now, at this very moment.

So while I was sitting at my desk trying to brainstorm ideas, I was listening to music. At some point during an argument I was having with myself about whether or not I was too lazy to get up and go buy some cookies, the Beatles came on singing All You Need Is Love. And I thought, "Thatís it! Ė get up, say some greeting, tell everybody that all they need is love, and walk off Ė speech over." I thought about it for about ten more seconds and realized that that is what people did in the sixties, and it probably wouldnít be as cool at a college graduation speech as it might have been in high school. As the Beatles song faded, I heard Bob Dylanís throaty voice started to sing, "Come gather Ďround people/Wherever you roam...", the beginning of the first verse of the song The Times They Are A-Changiní.

Our times most certainly have changed, will be changing, and most importantly, are a-changiní right now.

Not all of the graduates here entered college straight out of high school, but certainly many of us did. I think that from the moment our 18 year-old teenage selves waved good-bye to our parents on freshman move-in day, we began changing. And each subsequent year after the first we changed Ė from sophomore to junior, and finally from junior to senior. Part of that change is due to the responsibility college requires over high school. We had to learn to cook for ourselves (although I think that when deciding what to cook our thought process went something like, "Chick-Fil-A or CiCiís tonight? Maybe Burger House? Alright, alright Ramen Noodles for the tenth time this week."). We also had to pay rent, pay bills, and go to work.

We certainly changed as our courses changed. One of the class progressions for EE majors goes from calculus I to calculus II, hits a steeper slope at engineering math, and then coasts nicely through differential equations right into the brick wall that is electromagnetics. Part of an undergraduate EE majorís experience here at UTD revolves around getting through emag. As for literature majors, Iím told that they start freshman year with Dr. Seuss, end senior year with J. K. Rowling, and read R. L. Stine somewhere during their sophomore and junior years.

All joking aside, classes got harder each year, and we had to change to meet those challenges.

But all that is in the past, because we are here, at the end. In Bob Dylanís words, "Those times they have a-changed."

We leave UTD during a time when it will be changing greatly. The new NSERL building was finished last year, and has been filling up with labs and equipment. But itís not full, and more research will be conducted there in the future. This summer, ground will be broken for the new student housing. Remodeling for the campus beautification project also begins. And Temoc was retired this year. No longer will UTD be graced with his (or is it her?) presence at sporting events. Neither will it have the dubious distinction of having a mascot whose name is comet backwards. Something new will take his place next year.

All that, however, is in the future. As Bob Dylan would say, "Those times they will be a-changiní."

Despite all of the changes that we have undergone since freshman year and all of the changes planned for UTD, each and every one of us sits here today to graduate from UT Dallas. After today, we will experience change in our lives outside of, but based on, our common university Ė some will move on to new jobs, some will start a graduate program, and still others might even go on a vacation. Further down the road we will experience other changes as we move to a new place, start a family, or simply allow technology to affect our lives. And maybe these changes are not that far away at all. Whatever the case, things are changing for us right now, at this very moment. Iím not sure that anyone could say it any clearer than Bob Dylan when he sang, "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

There is no constant in life except change. Fellow students, I suggest that today we admire and embrace what change has wrought in our lives Ė our graduation from UT Dallas.

Congratulations class of 2008!

Andrew Stark came to UT Dallas as a recipient of an Academic Excellence Honors Scholarship, was a frequent member of the Deanís Honor List, a member of the National Honor Society and a member of the Collegium V Honors Program.

While at UT Dallas, he served as captain of the tennis team and was a member of the Student Athletics Advisory Board. He worked as a lab assistant within the Erik Jonsson School and spent a summer as a student intern at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Having turned down an offer from MIT, he accepted a scholarship in the doctoral program in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech.