A Glimpse of Graduation

Ben Morrow

Bachelor of Science, Business Administration
Bachelor of Arts, Arts & Technology

Fellow graduates, faculty, staff, my family and my friends: Welcome to the commencement ceremony of the class of 2008.

I’d like to thank the president’s staff for inviting me here today. The last time I was invited to UT Dallas, it took four-and-a-half-years to leave, so forgive me if I’m a bit suspicious.

Many of you are justifiably nervous about leaving the safe, comfortable world of college and hurling yourselves headlong into the big, bad world of graduate school and your professional lives.

Let me assure you that the knowledge that you’ve gained here at UT Dallas is a precious gift that will never leave you. Your education, the friends you made and the memories you shared are yours to keep forever.

My travels as an International Scholar Laureate to India, Tibet and China have blessed me with a better perspective of the world and a heightened appreciation for diversity. While the poverty in these regions remains humbling, I am in constant admiration of the strength of people who get by with so little and sacrifice so much just to make sure their children get an education.

There is also sadness today, a feeling of loss that you are leaving UT Dallas forever. Sadness that you won’t have to circle several parking lots stalking out that pristine spot closest to your class, or running in from the North 40 where you finally found a place to park.

Sadness over the loss of free pancakes at the breakfasts held during exam week, which reminds me of the blessed free Scantrons and blue books offered in the Student Government office. The loss of the free movies every Thursday night at the Meteor Theater, free concerts and art exhibitions, and student discounts at local restaurants.

Well, let me assure you that you never really leave UT Dallas. The UT Dallas Alumni Association will be after you until the day you die!

I’m going to tell you my story, because first of all, I am sincerely grateful for the opportunities and life experiences that my stay at UT Dallas has offered me. Secondly, it’s an amazing rush to stand in front of a thousand people and talk about yourself.

A wide-eyed freshman in 2004, I had the relaxed confidence of someone who knew - well really didn’t know - the extent of what he was getting into. Thank God for the efficiency of the orientation team, Dr. Cynthia Jenkins and the peer advisers.

I started my quest for my crazy two-and-half degrees well-advised and with steady guidance. When it was my turn as an Orientation Team mentor, I was thoroughly enthusiastic about the ’60s theme we had for the new freshmen at orientation. They [the freshmen] were pretty pumped about hearing Motown music their first day on campus, not to mention our undergraduate dean, Dr. Coleman - whom they’d just heard from - chipping in the music from his wilder days as a hippie musician touring the Midwest during the ‘60s.

My travels as an International Scholar Laureate to India, Tibet and China have blessed me with a better perspective of the world and a heightened appreciation for diversity. While the poverty in these regions remains humbling, I am in constant admiration of the strength of people who get by with so little and sacrifice so much just to make sure their children get an education.

Life is a little different here, where we wear pajama pants to class and reveal as little information as possible to our parents. However, we must continually realize education is a privilege and a blessing no matter which country we live in. I know that I am certainly grateful for what I have received. The professors here at UT Dallas have coached all of us for our futures, and for that we will be eternally grateful.

I had the pleasure of competing in the Business Idea Competition for the past two years, and, I have to say, I’ll never forget the nights spent preparing in the School of Management breakout rooms until 3 a.m. The janitors and my team got to be on a first name-basis. But nonetheless, I felt like I had seized the moment and put my very best foot forward. Entering the competition was well worth it because we got to meet a few venture capitalists and successful entrepreneurs in the process.

Speaking of accomplishments, who here wrote a thesis? A lot of hard work, sweat and blood went into that paper, and no one else is ever going to read it.

I’ve had a lot of successes and I’ve had a lot of failures. I’ve looked good, and I’ve looked bad. But my mistakes have been necessary - except for wearing my orange Hawaiian board shorts mid-November to Dr. Cirillo&rquo;s biochemistry class. That was just stupid.

But you see, every failure is liberating, and today I’m as reflective about the bad as I am about the good. That’s what I wish for all of you: the good as well as the bad. I believe attitude makes the difference. Fall down, make a mess, and break something occasionally. Then get up, gather your notes, move forward. And remember that the story is never over. Thank you, congratulations and best of luck class of 2008!

A Cum Laude graduate, Ben Morrow received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the School of Management and a Bachelor of Arts degree in arts and technology from the School of Arts and Humanities. He also completed the University’s rigorous pre-health curriculum.

As a student, Morrow was a member of the School of Management Honors Program and Dean’s Council, and also was a member of the Entrepreneurship Club, Global Investment Club and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the University’s pre-health honor society. In addition, he served as an Orientation Team Mentor where he helped new students acclimate to life at UT Dallas.

With a team of peers, Morrow twice won the University’s Business Idea Competition, generating more than $21,000 in start-up money. The winning projects included Green-Grid, an electricity brokerage company, as well as a software system for securing passwords.

Morrow is currently a partner in one of his start-up companies.