A Glimpse of Graduation

Remsen Andrew Jennings

Bachelor of Science, Accounting
Bachelor of Science, Finance

Good afternoon, fellow graduates, distinguished faculty, parents, family and friends.

I want to begin by congratulating the ladies and gentlemen sitting before us in graduation regalia, as well as the professors and administrators who mark another victory in their mission to provide educational excellence to students. Profile Photo of Andrew Remsen JenningsAnd as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the people sitting in the audience who provided love and support during our tenure in college.

Personally, I want to give praise to my mother and father, my family and my friends who have all challenged and encouraged me as a son, college student and friend; I am forever thankful.

Imagine that your first day of college was also your first day in the United States with nothing but a suitcase and a dream. Imagine you are a full-time employee and a student taking three evening classes, but also imagine that you are the primary caregiver of your three grandchildren. Imagine you were the first person in your family to attend college, with no precedent to follow, and that you obtain a nationally competitive internship in Washington, D.C., with the goal of fighting sex trafficking as an aspiring attorney and activist. Imagine as a first-time freshman, you are moving into your new room in the Residence Hall while struggling to break free from your mother’s grip as she cries, saddened that her child is growing up.

I’ve worked with these people. I’ve grown with these people. Walk into a School of Management classroom at The University of Texas at Dallas, and you will discover these are not figments of my imagination, but instead are the realities of four students immersed in a discussion about the emergence of Third World countries in a globalizing economy.

We are part of the creation of a technological Pangaea; we are in the midst of a communication and information sharing evolution, and we cannot run away from globalization. But why should we? It’s no secret to those of us here how fortunate we are to attend a competitive, innovative university. The world is unaware of what is coming; we veer from traditional college profiles. And that’s a good thing. If our university fit a standard profile, we would lack the diversity you see in this audience. We would lack constant exposure to diverse cultures and backgrounds in college that is a rare challenge presented to UT Dallas students.

In the School of Management, we were entrenched in discussions that forced us to sift through culturally conflicting ideas to reach a common goal. We worked together to finish group projects and study sufficiently to pass final exams. Whether or not you are aware of your situation as UT Dallas students, we now all have global experience that will be foreign theory to many of our entry-level competitors. We now celebrate that we will never all be in the same room again after today. Doesn’t this seem like an odd reason to celebrate? After we walk across this stage, we have the opportunity to paint the world with orange and green as proud Comets. At stake is not the future of the University — after all, we know the University will continue to prosper. At stake is our future. Each of us holds the responsibility of continuing the excellence that permeates through the halls of the School of Management and through the 4,000 trees at UT Dallas. If we do this, we will succeed.

“We are bound together by an idea: the dreams of a full-time grandmother and a first-generation college student are no different from the dreams of a traditional college graduate who was raised in American suburbia. I learned this at UT Dallas.”

Symbolically, the drastic physical changes to the University landscape reflect the University’s growth. UT Dallas looked and felt very different when I started as a young freshman four years ago; to imagine a university could transform into an internationally competitive research institution so quickly was unfathomable. Imagine no more. I could feel the value of my degree skyrocketing with each new development and achievement that we as students catalyzed. What a great investment! Because of the rapid progress we have made as a unified student body, I am pleased to know that the value of my degree will be worth 10 times more in the next few years, even after I am finished as a student. If only my investments in stock could be so generous, I would be in great shape!

We are bound together by an idea: the dreams of a full-time grandmother and a first-generation college student are no different from the dreams of a traditional college graduate who was raised in American suburbia. I learned this at UT Dallas.

Before coming to this University, I personally believed orange and green produced an unlikely color combination. I struggled to describe exactly what shades of orange and green we used for our school colors. Is it burnt orange or rusty orange? Is it dark green, evergreen, or some shade in between the two colors?

A friend of mine cleared this ambiguity for me. He emigrated here from a war-torn country in his mid-20s and struggled to obtain an education. Imagine my reaction when I was flipping through television channels and saw him sitting behind the Federal Reserve chairman as an intern at the Financial Roundtable with a beaming smile on his face. These are the kinds of memories that place The University of Texas at Dallas in a league of its own. These are the kind of memories that make me a proud Comet. It was at that moment, seeing my friend’s success unfold on television, that I knew exactly what shades of orange and green permeate throughout this University. They are not tangible shades. They are not replicable. To me, UT Dallas’ shades of orange and green have hints of confidence, success, prowess and pride.

You all have shown me that unlikely combinations produce unexpectedly fascinating results. We all want success, and we have it in our hands.

Scientists say comets hit the Earth once or twice every 1 million years. I believe after today, Comets will make an impact on the world much more frequently. I expect our science research department to conduct a study to confirm my assertion! We have gathered here today because we have chosen success over apathy, challenge over passivity. As you walk out of this building today, I leave you with one challenge: Wake up every day with your paintbrush in hand, ready to make a positive impact. Regardless of where you are in the world, remember to leave a splash of orange and green.

Congratulations to the class of 2011! Thank you.

Remsen Jennings graduated summa cum laude with a double degree in accounting and finance from the School of Management.

During his time at UT Dallas, he served as a UT System Student Advisory Council member, was student body vice president and was president of the Management Honors Program. He has been recognized for his academic excellence by Golden Key National Honour Society and has been on the dean’s list several times.

During the past year, Jennings held internships at both J.P. Morgan and Ernst & Young. After graduation, he plans to pursue his master’s degree in accounting at UT Dallas and hopes to receive his CPA certification before starting a full-time position in external auditing with Ernst & Young.