A Glimpse of Graduation

Roza Baczkowska

Master of Science, Accounting and Information Management

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished faculty, administration staff, guests, and dear students of the class of 2008: welcome and thank you all for coming. It is a great privilege to speak on behalf of my fellow graduates. I will do my best to express the thoughts of each of you during those short minutes. However, allow me to embrace my own individual perception.

The University of Texas at Dallas is an excellent academic institution. The finest faculty members represent the university and the administration provides a high quality of services. Nobel Prize laureates research here. You will learn soon why I emphasize the importance of having Nobel Prize winners among the faculty. In a nutshell, such an environment challenges students to go above and beyond the minimum expectations and transforms individual students into a truly exceptional student body.

During the years that I spent studying here, not only have I had an opportunity to witness the university’s excellence in the classroom or lab, but also I experienced the outstanding qualities of the university’s administration. I witnessed that the University’s faculty and staff assist students not only to succeed, but first and foremost, to excel in their academic accomplishments.

During the years that I spent studying here, not only have I had an opportunity to witness the university's excellence in the classroom or lab, but also I experienced the outstanding qualities of the university's administration. I was a full-time employee in one of the offices of Student Affairs, and I experienced from the other side of the counter the hard work of the university's staff. What is sometimes unappreciated, I witnessed that the University’s faculty and staff assist students not only to succeed, but first and foremost, to excel in their academic accomplishments.

We have all learned that accomplishment does not come without the price of hard work. But in order to work hard, we often need an inspiration that motivates us to take chances and risks, which leads us to try harder in everything we do.

Such an inspiration came to me from the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize, the first individual to win two Nobel Prizes, the first to win two Nobel Prizes in two different fields, and who remains the only woman to win two Nobel Prizes, my countryman Maria Curie-Sklodowska, also known to most of us as Marie Curie. There are several reasons why she is close to my heart. Let me name just a few. Not only was she a revolutionary scientist that discovered polonium and radium, but most importantly to me she was a female who broke the conventional rules of society at her time. Being a loving wife and a mother in a traditional household setting at the beginning of the 20th century, she continued to dedicate herself to her academic work and research. Marie Curie’s tremendous contributions to the diversity of the workplace cannot be overrated. And what is important to note is that, she became an example for all other women to emulate emancipation at no cost to their husbands and children. I am proud of her as she contributed to the fact that over half of us graduates are women. I, a women and wife, am inspired by Marie Curie's life and encourage each of you to find your own inspiration that will lead you through life after graduation. As we look to our left and our right, we see the wealth of not only gender diversity but also of nationalities, languages, cultures, and colors. In the same way as Marie Curie, who migrated from her home to be embraced by academic circles in a foreign country, I have been accepted by this university and country. This diversity, probably the greatest asset of our aAlma m Mater, attracts the finest talent from all over the world. We all are a living proof.

Let me refocus on what Marie Curie once said: "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." At first, being a freshman, I felt fear due to my lack of understanding. But Marie Curie's thought has guided me throughout my education, allowing me to come to the point of sharing with you, my fellow alumni, our accomplishment of graduating today. And I am with you here today because I learned that understanding is the key to defeating my fears. I wish that all of us will continue to be inspired by someone or something of importance to us. Although our professors will no longer be in proximity to give us a hand, we should continue to strive for understanding in all we do.

We have all learned that accomplishment does not come without the price of hard work. But in order to work hard, we often need an inspiration that motivates us to take chances and risks, which leads us to try harder in everything we do.

Knowing our goals, knowing what we are truly willing and want to do, having a clear sense of purpose and focusing on our commitments, will certainly help us to achieve our mission. Directing our actions in ways to accomplish our goals, and prioritizing our activities to complete them with effectiveness and efficiency, will lead us to success. Are we ready to take any challenge to achieve the impossible today? We will be ready if we have built a foundation for our future success by selecting a career that we will be passionate about. I hope that the professions we have chosen will encourage us to develop and excel in skills that we have learned in school. Great achievements don’t come at once, but by a series of cumulative steps. As we become analysts, advisors, consultants, entrepreneurs, CEOs, or you name it, we should bear in mind what Marie Curie said: "Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."

Fellow graduates, my congratulations to all of you! We made it. The pride we have should be so much greater, for without our determination we wouldn’t be here today.

Karol Wojtyla, a great philosopher and also my countryman, known to most of us as John Paul II, once said, "The future starts today, not tomorrow." Thus, my dear classmates, embrace this day not only as the end of a chapter in your lives, but as a beginning of what the future holds. With further determination, the challenges and fears of a new era in our lives will be defeated by what we have learned at The University of Texas at Dallas and by what we understand about the world around us.

Inspired by Maria Curie, I wish you best of luck in gaining further understanding, which will enable you to defeat your fears and achieve the impossible!