A Glimpse of Graduation

Blake Farha

Bachelor of Science, Economics

Hello, everyone.

I would like to start today by saying: OK, Mom, you were right Ė again. College did not eat me alive before I made it to graduation.

In all seriousness, I would like to thank you all for allowing me to speak before you on this momentous occasion. It is truly an honor. I know all of you sitting in front of me wearing caps and gowns must be thinking the same thing: ďSeriously? Another lecture? I thought I was done with that a week ago!Ē

Well, donít worry. While we all must have very mixed feelings right now, if thereís one sentiment Iím sure we all share, itís that we all want to get home and begin celebrating, so Iíll try to be brief.

While you should all feel an overwhelming sense of pride for having reached this incredible landmark, donít allow yourselves to become too caught up in pats on the back and congratulatory remarks.

I want you to take a moment to think about the most trying times you experienced throughout the long journey that led you to this day. Now think about how you made it through those tribulations. I sincerely doubt that anyone present today can say they were pulled from the darkest moments without the helping hands of friends, or pushed past the largest roadblocks without the encouragement of family and loved ones.

Make sure to recognize all those people who have had a hand in your successes, or comforted you in your failures. Remember, while it may be you crossing this stage by yourself, you could not have made it here alone.

People have come from all over the world to have the privilege of studying here and thatís because, regardless of their backgrounds, nationalities, races, or creeds, they must appreciate the fact that UT Dallas offers top-notch academics.

I would especially like to thank a group of people who, on a day like this, may not receive the recognition they deserve: our professors. If not for their knowledge and dedication to academic endeavors, we would not be the upstanding, well-educated people we are today. If not for them, we would have no piece of paper waiting for us on the other side of this stage.

At times, it may have seemed as though our wicked professors were out to get us, and some of them may have even haunted our worst nightmares. Not two weeks ago, on a particularly sleepless night, I awoke to find myself chanting, ďSet the marginal revenue equal to the marginal cost, set the marginal revenue equal to the marginal cost.Ē (Itís clear by the laughter who all the economics nerds are, isnít it?)

In reality, they did not strive to fail us, but instead to push us to our limits. They wanted to show us that only through adversity and struggle can anything truly be gained, a lesson that has made us all stronger, more resilient individuals. They taught us to dig deeper, to think harder, and to question the status quo. These are the qualities that allow people to create change. These are the qualities that will allow you all to excel and succeed in the future.

As I sat at my desk struggling to write this speech, I thought about what defines us all as graduates of UT Dallas. I tried to find some sort of symbol that embodies what it means to have attended UT Dallas.

Finally it came to me, and I couldnít believe I had never thought of it before: Whoosh. The Comet Whoosh absolutely describes UT Dallas, and what it means to be a graduate of this great school.

First and foremost, the Whoosh, much like the majority of the schoolís populace ó myself included ó is kind of nerdy. I mean, instead of a football team, we celebrate our chess team, which is one of the best in the world. I think we can all agree that says something about the level of cool at this University.

But the nerdiness inherent in this awkward cheer is something to embrace. We as students are some of the brightest in the nation, and our love of scholarliness and intelligent thought has allowed us to boast a fantastic academic program, which will only flourish in the years to come.

The Whoosh is extremely accessible. It is something people can see, and immediately appreciate, regardless of their background. When I initially told my friends about it, they laughed out loud. But before long, they found themselves using “whoosh” as an all-purpose term for expressing excitement, disappointment, shock and even managed to extend its uses to include verbs and nouns.

UT Dallas is much the same. The diversity of our student body acts as testament to the fact that the caliber of this University has begun to gain worldwide recognition. I can remember times when I walked to class and heard more conversations in a language I couldnít understand than a language I could.

People have come from all over the world to have the privilege of studying here, and thatís because regardless of their backgrounds, nationalities, races, or creeds, they must appreciate the fact that UT Dallas offers top-notch academics.

This next one is a bit corny, but I feel justified because, forgive me for saying so, our school is no stranger to corniness. Case in point: our once-beloved mascot, Temoc. The physical positioning of his arms mid-whoosh says something about UT Dallas. Notice that the right arm points ever upwards, higher and higher, just as our students constantly set the bar ever upward, higher and higher.

In my four years here, I have watched, semester after semester, as the student body took advantage of the opportunities attending such a young university can afford them.

From the community garden to the budding Greek life, from the now nationally recognized radio station to the Cosmic Film Festival, from the Spirit Rock to University Idol, I have borne witness to the ambition and the ingenuity of UT Dallas students as new organizations and new traditions come to life, and I await with eager anticipation to see what lies in store in the coming years, as new generations of students continue to set the bar ever upwards, higher and higher.

You may feel proud to call yourself a UT Dallas graduate today. Imagine how proud youíll feel 10, 20 or 30 years from now.

So, before I end my speech today, I would like to ask a favor from the sea of graduates in front of me. I started my career here Whooshing at orientation, and I would like to end my career here Whooshing at graduation. So when I shout UTD, I would love it if you would all stand and Whoosh with me, one final time, united as Comets, united as the graduating class of 2008.

Congratulations on this tremendous achievement, and good luck to you all in all of your future endeavors.

U -T-D! WHOOSH!

Blake Farha will graduate Summa Cum Laude with a degree in economics from the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.

As a student, Farha was a disk jockey at Radio UTD, a member of the Spanish Study Club, a Senior First Year Leader for the Freshman Experience Program, vice president of Meteor Theatre and a fast-track graduate student in the economics program.

He worked as a laboratory assistant in the neuroscience department and studied Spanish at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico. He also was active in intramural sports and is an accomplished guitarist. He is the recipient of an Academic Excellence Scholarship and was listed on the Deanís Honor Roll each semester he attended the University.

Farha will spend spring 2009 studying in Castellon, Spain, after which he will officially receive his diploma. He later hopes to enter a doctoral program in economics.