Bachelor of Science, Economics
Greetings, graduates, parents, family, friends and faculty. Thank you all for coming here today to celebrate the many, many accomplishments the students sitting before me have made throughout their college careers. It is truly an honor to be speaking here today, and I want to thank the UT Dallas administration for allowing me to do so.
Unfortunately, I have to start off my speech with a sincere apology to all of you. I’m moving to Chicago in just a few weeks and I think it’s safe to assume that last week’s ice fiasco was the universe’s way of preparing me for the brutal Chicago winters. So after all of the cancellations, rescheduling and news reports, we finally have a reason for all of our troubles: me. If I would have just chosen a warmer destination, the universe would have nothing to prepare me for since I grew up in the scorching Texas summers, and we could have had graduation as originally scheduled and avoided this entire mess. I sincerely hope you all can forgive me.
But in all seriousness, I would like to express how proud I am to call myself a graduate of The University of Texas at Dallas. If I were to list all of the things I love about this University, we would all be very late to our graduation parties tonight, but there is one thing in particular I’d like to point out.
For those of you who don’t know, UT Dallas is one of the most diverse schools in the country. Of course, there’s the ethnic diversity here, but there’s also a different type of diversity that someone outside the school may not realize. This school is full of:
- Students living with their parents to try to save money (which was me at one point).
- Students taking a full course load while working full time and trying to raise a family (and yes, somehow this actually happens).
- Military veterans returning to school after bravely fighting for our freedom.
- Students from all over the globe who came here in pursuit of a better education and a better life.
- And students who are perhaps twice the age of the average college freshmen who decided to invest in themselves and their future.
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet students in these situations, and I cannot put into words how much respect I have for them and the University that accommodates them. And even the more traditional students, coming to UTD right after high school and living on campus, are by no means ordinary. Students here are perfectly fine with being a little bit more on the nerdy side. They aren’t offended when someone says we don’t have a football team (Temoc and our chess team more than make up for that), and they aren’t afraid to be innovative. After all, this University is known for its research and innovation.
UTD is by no means set in tradition, so the administration encourages students to think outside the box and gives them opportunities to make changes, and the personality of the student body reflects that.
All of this comes down to one simple statement about why I love this University. No matter where you come from or where you’re going, you’ll find a place at UTD, and if for some reason you don’t, you have the ability to create that place that simply did not exist before.
One of my personal heroes, John Wooden, The Wizard of Westwood, once said, “Nothing will work unless you do.” Well, graduates, I’d say we’ve put in our fair share of work.
This celebration, this degree, this achievement has worked because of your efforts.
We’ve pulled all-nighters, while likely drinking more coffee and eating more ramen and mac’n’cheese than any one person should ever consume, and we’ve made sacrifices to pursue the education of our dreams.
“All of this comes down to one simple statement about why I love this University. No matter where you come from or where you’re going, you’ll find a place at UTD, and if for some reason you don’t, you have the ability to create that place that simply did not exist before.”
Your presence here today says a lot about your character and drive: You’re likely to strive for greatness and perhaps perfection. This is by all means a good thing. However, sometimes you need to be reminded to enjoy the journey. Jim Rohn said it best: “Learn to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.”
So pursue that graduate, law or medical degree, or your first full-time job, or whatever your ambitions may lead you toward, but don’t let your successes or failures define your happiness in your life.
Be proud of what you’ve accomplished here at UT Dallas, but realize that you did not do it on your own. We are here today to not only celebrate the accomplishments of those about to receive diplomas; we are also here today to thank everyone who helped make our degrees possible. Professors, faculty, parents, siblings, friends, spouses and even children have helped us get into this room here today.
Those of you who have children may disagree with me about that last one, but I’ll stand by it.
So I encourage all of you to reach out to those who helped you earn this degree with gratitude and appreciation.
So as we leave this University for perhaps the last time, remember to follow your dreams, don’t be afraid to take a chance or two, and continue the lifelong process of learning that you’ve begun here at UT Dallas. Whatever it is you may do, be bold, be brave, and have pride. The world will notice each and every one of us, for we are all Comets. We don’t come around very often.
Thank you, and good luck to all of you.
Andrew Bourg graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science in economics with a minor in actuarial science. He has been involved with the Actuarial Student Association and the Consulting Club at UT Dallas, and has also served as a supplemental instructor as well as a First Year Leader. He is a member of the Omicron Delta Epsilon Honor Society, has been named to the Dean’s List, and is graduating with EPPS honors. He has also completed a senior honors thesis, in which he researched long-term care insurance under the supervision of Dr. Rodney Andrews. He has held actuarial internships with United American Insurance Co. and Towers Watson, and also volunteered at Baylor Medical Center. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career as an actuary with a consulting firm in Chicago.