A Glimpse of Graduation

Rachel Markowitz

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

Fellow graduates, faculty, and guests, my family and the Andersons, Usman, Alex, Judie and Danielle, to all the people watching at home via Web cast, thank you all for being here.

Itís actually here, graduation day. Your tests are finished, youíre all dressed up, and somehow youíve managed to find a parking space and enough tickets for the whole family. When I found out I would get to represent EPPS up here today, I was so thrilled to get to speak alongside Bree. For those of you who were here for all four, or five, or however many years, youíll remember those dorky Rhet 1101 classes we took to get us started at UTD. Itís a wonderful coincidence that Bree and I actually began our UTD careers together in a freshman Rhet class and are now ending it together here.

For a minute, I want you to think about three things: your past, your future and this strange moment right now where you can feel your presence between the two. What does it mean to you to be here today? Itís the pride of the culmination of years of struggle, sacrificing precious time and resources in the pursuit of greater knowledge and opportunity.

One note, let me just tell you in advance weíre not allowed to throw our hats, ok. Itís a disappointment to those of us whoíve been trying out various ultimate Frisbee throws in our heads in preparation, but the corners are actually really sharp. So no graduation Frisbee today. But you didnít spend all these years pushing through exams and term papers so you could sit here and listen to me goof around about a weird club sport, so I promise I wonít lecture. Weíve all put in our time listening to lectures.

For a minute, I want you to think about three things: your past, your future, and this strange moment right now where you can feel your presence between the two. What does it mean to you to be here today?

Iíve been to many of these commencement ceremonies, and Iíve seen the same shining pride and hope in the eyes of graduates and their families that we all share today. Itís the pride of the culmination of years of struggle, sacrificing precious time and resources in the pursuit of greater knowledge and opportunity. Being a student has been a major part of each of our identities, itís the box weíve been checking on all those forms.

But today marks so much more than just checking a new box, filing your taxes differently or not being able to get the UTD discount anymore. Today is more than an expensive chance to wear a funny hat. Today, we can stand up and say weíve conquered, weíve won. And that itís time to face our next challenge: the so-called real world weíve all been hearing about.

I donít know about you, but Iíve always pictured graduation as this huge divide between youth and adulthood. Luckily, weíve each grown strong enough to leap that divide, with the help of so many professors, peers, friends and family. Now is the jumping off point, with UTD as our springboard. Now we look to the future and take that next big, big step that started with our first steps as children and will progress with every step we take across this stage.

I donít know about you, but Iíve always pictured graduation as this huge divide between youth and adulthood. Luckily, weíve each grown strong enough to leap that divide, with the help of so many professors, peers, friends and family. Now is the jumping off point, with UTD as our springboard.

Many of us here are pre-law or pre-med, and weíre all pre-professionals of some kind. The same things that applied to being successful in college will apply to being successful in the "real world," only now you may have to do it wearing a suit instead of sweatpants. Except for you medical people, whom I hear pretty much get to wear pajamas all the time. But we know how to work hard and put in the over time, to network and collaborate, to be both a teammate and a leader, and to take those necessary risks to get ahead.

We also canít forget where we came from. Weíve been here at UTD, soon to be our alma mater, as it is growing and blossoming before our very eyes. Weíve helped create new Frisbee teams and community gardens, stretched those library hours late into the night and made many lasting impressions on our university. Now, as we prepare to let go, we must remember to keep UTD and each other in our thoughts. We must remember to come back when we can and participate in UTDís future. Even if itís just so we can catch a glimpse of the crazy new residence hall or gossip about which professors are STILL teaching after all these years. Or, oh yeah, cheer on one of the best chess teams in the world.

So whether youíre planning for medical school or starting your 2028 Presidential bid, staying in Dallas or moving around the globe, remember this day and the pride and hope that emanated from us all. Remember the creativity that was inspired by the friendships you fostered over these years with mentors, peers, or even those UTD cats you may have petted between classes. Remember to take the time to show kindness and the kindness will be returned. Remember to wear your hat and smile and take joy in this awesome new beginning. Congratulations, my classmates, the Comets of 2008!

Rachel Markowitz graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in political science.

She came to UT Dallas as a McDermott Scholar and National Merit Scholar, was on the Deanís Honor List, was a Student Ambassador, a Pre-Law advisor, captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, a member of the Model United Nations and participated on the Moot Court team.

She also served as a program intern for the World Affairs Council of Dallas. As an Archer Fellow, she spent a semester in Washington DC working for the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations. As a part of her undergraduate education she also spent time in Thailand, Mexico and Morocco.

Markowitz was selected as UT Dallasí first Fulbright Scholar and will spend next year in Morocco continuing her study of the Arabic language and her research on conflict resolution. After that, she expects to enter law school with a focus on international law.