A Glimpse of Graduation

Malik Taimoor Khalid Nawabi

Master of Business Administration

President Daniel, Provost Wildenthal, Dean Cunningham, ladies, gentlemen, parents, friends, family, staff, and of course, my fellow students:

Those of you who are like me — Millennials, members of Generation Y, the Peter Pan generation, as reality-challenged as we are — Profile Photo of Malik Taimoor Khalid Nawabi can follow my words on the screen behind me or with your cell phone at Taimoorsspeech.com.

When I was thinking about what to say here tonight I wrote this verse:

Isn't it strange how princes and kings

And clowns who caper in sawdust rings

And common folk, like you and me, are builders of eternity?

For each of us is given a bag of tools,

a shapeless mass, and a set of rules. (A lot of rules)

And each of us, when life is flown,

has carved a stumbling block or a steppingstone.

What an awe-inspiring thought, that you and I are builders of eternity. Not would be, not could be, but are. This evening, as we say goodbye to our graduate life, where everything was scheduled and structured for us, we enter into a new realm of our life that is very, very analog, continuous, unstructured, unknown and possibly scary.

What kinds of builders will we become, and what will we build? You have probably asked yourself that question several times already, or you need to ask it as soon as possible. Even as I looked at myself in the mirror this morning, I asked myself that very question. Life is filled with endless opportunities waiting to be embraced. I am not just referring to professional career opportunities, but all the million daily chances and challenges that shape us as individuals. Since we are, after all, builders of eternity, with God's guidance and aid, we fabricate our lives, the lives of those we come in contact with, and those waiting to be born.

We all have many memories of our time in school here: the good times and the bad, the fun times, the difficult times. When I first came here, I was assigned a presentation in my Marketing 6301 class. Now I thought I came from a very good school, but it didn’t require many presentations. You guys remember the feeling of standing in front of 25 students in your first class? I was ready to pass out. But now I have been doing it so much that I don't even have a problem standing in front of 1,000 people tonight. I thought that was one of the bad times, when I just hated Dr. Biswas for making me stand up and talk in front of a class, but presentation skills are critical, and they actually turned out to be one of my few strong points.

Recalling memories from the past always brings smiles, but today, what I want to do is look closely at the present, and propose a challenge for us about the future. We are often told that only now, after we are graduating, do we start our lives. This is true to an extent, but most of us feel we are already playing this game called life. For instance, some of us are already busy in our jobs or businesses, while others are already studying for their doctoral degrees. I realized this morning that we have not only caught up with the rest of society, but we've already set new standards during our graduate studies — our own standards. We may have digital imaginations, but we have analog principles.

Now, the thoughts that keep bugging me are: what am I supposed to do next? How do I leave my own mark on the world? How do I prove that there was a reason why God created me and brought me to this point? How do I make my parents proud of me?

Whenever these questions arise in my mind, I always think about what I love putting my heart and soul in to. If I was given 10 lives, or a million lives, what is it I would pick to do over and over again? These are values for our generation: commitment and fulfillment.

OK, we are over with the philosophy class here. You can wake up now! Anyway, we are done with our graduate degrees today. What I went through in this program was surely challenging but exciting, and it made me think in ways that I would never have experienced on my own. It made me a confident person, a person who could analyze the circumstances and make decisions. UT Dallas and its always-ready-to-help staff supported us down every block of the path. The best thing about this school is that they don't do everything for you. As the British saying goes, they show you the door, and you are the one to walk through it. This approach gave me and my fellow students an opportunity to learn a lot more than what we would have.

In addition, the multicultural environment gave me an awesome opportunity to learn and study with people from different cultures while staying in one place. Understanding various perspectives all at the same time helps us, because no matter where we go in the world, we must adjust to the environment and embrace the culture of the area. For that, a big thank you to UT Dallas — the professors, the administration and the students from all over the world. What you guys provide us all is invaluable.

Today I have the distinct honor of representing each of you who sits before me — and I know that collectively we want to thank our friends, our classmates and our study mates who tolerated our funny and peculiar ways. And, of course, we must collectively thank our professors who put up with our constant interruptions during office hours and took precious time to ensure that we understood the coursework. I know that I personally challenged Professors Frank Anderson, David Cordell, David Dial, Robert Robb and Nina Baranchuk in my endless pursuit to understand complex financial formulas.

“The best thing about this school is that they don't do everything for you. As the British saying goes, they show you the door, and you are the one to walk through it. This approach gave me and my fellow students an opportunity to learn a lot more than what we would have.”

Most importantly, we need to thank our families to whom we owe our lives, especially our parents. These are the people who have made the entire experience possible. Personally, my parents have supported my every endeavor. I know that all of you love and adore your parents — let's turn to them and acknowledge their dedication. And for the mothers in the audience — especially mine — hold those tears for a bit. I would be remiss if I didn't thank my siblings, who helped me write and practice this speech.

Graduating is a huge accomplishment for each of us. I have been working toward this goal for nearly 25 years. While we have accomplished this important milestone, let us not forget about what lies ahead. Before I leave, I would like to share a quote by T.S. Elliot: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far one can go.”

So from today forward, remember what other trailblazers have accomplished, but also remember to go out and blaze your own trail. We have been given a great education; our toolboxes are full of wonderful devices. We are now prepared to go out and accomplish great things. This will be what we build — the legacy we leave for ourselves, UT Dallas and the School of Management. This is what is going to remain for eternity. Congratulations to each and every one of you, and may God bless all of you, InshAllah (as we say in Arabic)!

Taimoor Nawabi earned a master's degree in business administration from the School of Management.

He has been actively involved in the School of Management's student-managed investment fund, and served as officer of the financial leadership association. He also is a recipient of the School of Management Dean's Excellence Scholarship.

Nawabi came to UT Dallas from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in finance and accounting in June 2006. He had three years of professional experience in the corporate banking sector before starting his MBA.

After graduation, he plans to sit for the CPA and CFA exams. He is currently working as a financial analyst at Fidelity Investments.