A Glimpse of Graduation

Dina Shahrokhi

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

Thank you, Dr. Daniel, Dean Piñeres, and all present staff and faculty members for honoring us at this special occasion. And a special thanks to everyone in the audience who has come here today to share this big moment. I personally want to tip my special cap to my family and friends who have supported me through thick and thin these past four years.

Many of us have heard the stereotypical graduation speech before: One chapter ends, and another begins. And that is very true. Profile Photo of Dina ShahrokhiBut we all know that we are about to take the next step toward the rest of our lives.

In fact, this is a pretty impressive room of people destined for greatness. For example, in front of me sits one of my friends who will be saving hundreds of lives as a brain surgeon, after he completes about a million years of medical school. I have another friend on a quest to turn the frowns of dozens of children upside down as the world’s greatest school counselor, and as a mom. I also know some future lawyers striving to defend those who cannot stand up for themselves or put away those who threaten the lives of innocent citizens. Who knows, maybe they will also give us a discounted rate if we get stuck in a bind or two?

For many of the rest of us, our paths are a bit more unclear. The most common question – and the most dreaded question – that many of us received this year was “What are you doing after you graduate?” I personally avoided the question like the plague, often pre-empting it by telling people to not ask about my future because the topic was too stressful. Many of us procrastinated on our applications. We liked to tell ourselves we were just becoming more efficient with our time, but, really, senioritis had kicked in, and by the spring semester, it was kicking hard. In fact, far too often we found ourselves taking a break from Facebook, YouTube, Call of Duty or World of Warcraft to work on applications rather than the other way around. Many of us pushed the final submit button at about 11:55 p.m. of the due date, and thought we were five minutes early.

The point is that figuring out what to do next is scary, and the future is never clear. That said, I have no doubt that we will be doing great things and will make this world a better place once we move on from the land of Temoc.

Where does this confidence in us all come from? In my past four years here I have had the opportunity to meet and grow with so many of you. I have seen passionate students start new organizations to address issues ranging from sustainability to animal protection to how to properly enjoy the art of kite flying. I have seen students assume leadership roles to determine how to allocate $10 million in funding, and I have seen students try to figure out how to successfully lead an organization with a budget of about $50. I have met a student with a child at home who still came to class every single week prepared to contribute to our discussions, even while she was in her third trimester carrying her baby boy. I have gotten to know students who have been working at this degree for nearly twice as long as many of us, taking two classes at a time in the evenings so they could work full-time to provide for their families. I know students who have persevered through the stresses of difficult classes, dramatic relationships, traumatic family experiences, severe sickness and UT Dallas parking. With that in mind, we are ready to take on the world.

“The point is that figuring out what to do next is scary, and the future is never clear. That said, I have no doubt that we will be doing great things and will make this world a better place once we move on from the land of Temoc.”

In all seriousness, the passion and commitment that we have developed in academics and through campus leadership will truly help us become the future leaders that this University expects us to be. We have been gifted with a great education, priceless leadership skills and the talent of knowing how to wear orange and green tastefully. Some of us have traveled the world, worked with world-renowned professors in labs and through research, and held prestigious internships throughout the country. Even if we aren’t sure exactly what profession we may end up in, we are prepared to achieve success and for the challenges we will face.

A former administrator at this University once told me that UT Dallas should be a better place after I graduate because I was a student here. Fellow Comets, I now want to extend that challenge beyond UT Dallas to us all.

After we walk away from this stage, this world should be a better place because we will step into it. For some of us, that may mean practicing law or medicine. Others may research cures for new diseases or serve our government. Some Comets may focus on bringing life to this world and devoting their time to their children. Others may become YouTube stars and put smiles on the face of millions every day. Whatever we do, we must take the skills we have learned here at UT Dallas and apply them to make this world better. And next time someone asks us “what are you going to be doing now that you have graduated,” we should all confidently answer: “Something great.”

This is the last time we will all be in a room of this many people that understand that the Whoosh really is our school symbol, so let’s make good use of this opportunity and go out with it. Congratulations Class of 2011, U-T-D Whoosh!

Dina Shahrokhi graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences. At UT Dallas, she was a McDermott Scholar. She has been involved in Student Government, where she was the Senator of the Year, as well as Student Government Vice President for 2010-11.

Shahrokhi started an organization called SPEAK (Students for Political Education, Action and Knowledge) to increase political awareness and participation among the University community via voter registration drives and other activities. She is interested in conflict resolution and its application in Middle Eastern politics, and has studied Arabic. She has traveled to Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, and the United Arab Emirates. She also received a Critical Language Scholarship from the State Department during summer 2009 to study Arabic in Morocco.

Shahrokhi also was chosen as a Bill Archer Fellow in fall 2009, where she spent a semester living in Washington, D.C. working at the Middle East Institute. After graduation, she hopes to spend a year abroad mastering the Arabic language before applying to work for the State Department.