Syed Rasheed

Bachelor of Science, Psychology
Bachelor of Science, Child Learning and Development

Thank you, Dr. Daniel, distinguished faculty and staff, friends, family and fellow graduates. I am honored and truly humbled to be speaking with you on this momentous occasion.  Congratulations, grads. Our hard work and countless hours spent at UT Dallas taking quizzes and tests and writing papers using Wikipedia as our main source of information have finally paid off. But wait: We still have those pesky finals to take right after graduation.  Now that’s going to increase our senioritis to another level. But don’t worry, today we can basically say that we are finally done with our undergraduate studies, and let me tell you, it feels awesome! 

Profile Photo of Alan Howell

When I was writing this speech, I wanted to say something that would continue to inspire you to do great after UT Dallas, because here, all we did were great things. So the speech I have prepared today will make some of you laugh, some get emotional and some just stare at me confused, but I especially hope to make the lady doing sign language laugh at least once.  Instead of inspiring you with quotes from famous people, I’ve decided to share a few words of advice as we embark on life’s journeys. During our time at UT Dallas, we saw the University take huge steps toward becoming the next Tier One institution.  From raising millions of dollars in only a few years to building brand-new, energy-efficient buildings, UT Dallas, like us, is not finished growing. Just as our school is always competing with the best and always aspiring to meet the future, we should do the same. If there’s one thing UT Dallas has taught me, it’s that greatness is something that you have to desire, and the way you achieve it is by growing as an individual.

My first advice for you today is to be a leader, not a follower. Make your own path and move out of your comfort zone. It helps you to grow as a person, but most important, it teaches you that you make your own destiny and create your own opportunities for success.

Second, don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is actually learning. At UT Dallas, I’ve held many leadership positions for many clubs, and I interned at many places during my undergraduate studies. With so many leadership and internship opportunities for students to do well during their undergraduate studies, it’s no wonder we boast our amazing academic record. When I first got my job, I was petrified that I would not be knowledgeable enough to be a research assistant. I was afraid of failing (every student’s nightmare). But, I did not let my fear of failure stop me from pushing myself. Take the challenge, and if you don’t succeed, it’s OK, because you will have learned something valuable from your experience at the end of the day. This reminds me of a saying that I read on a poster in high school that really stuck with me: “Shoot for the moon; if you fall, you still land among the stars.”

My third and last piece of advice for all of you today is to always strive to learn something new every day to inspire and help others. The most rewarding experience is when you teach others your art and watch them grow. I hope we all apply everything we have achieved at UT Dallas for the betterment of humanity and ourselves. My parents always reminded me that helping others is one of the greatest accomplishments a person can have in his life. Always give a hand to those who are less fortunate than you, and remember even a smile can make someone’s day better.

“Today is our day to celebrate our accomplishments, but we do not just rejoice at the end of our undergraduate careers, but also the beginning of our lives’ callings. The faculty at UT Dallas have always been and will be deeply invested in our academic achievement and personal development.”

Today is our day to celebrate our accomplishments, but we do not just rejoice at the end of our undergraduate careers, but also the beginning of our lives’ callings. The faculty at UT Dallas have always been and will be deeply invested in our academic achievement and personal development. I remember when I stepped into my first college class and realized how huge the class size was compared to high school. I started thinking to myself and saying, “How can my professor help me with so many students in class?” Then as the semester continued, I realized how amazing our professors at UT Dallas are. They go above and beyond to help their students. My faculty members wrote countless recommendation letters for research grants and scholarships. Our professors called us by our names, met with us at the oddest hours, and never turned away confused, caffeine-induced students cramming for midterms who have waited far too long to find out what Chapter 2 was about. In one word, the UT Dallas faculty are “spectacular.”

We are unique from other universities. We may not have a football team or those crazy prep rallies other schools have, but what we have is a kick-butt chess team. Take that, Longhorn and Aggie fans. On a serious note, every one of you should be extremely proud of yourself on your journey at UT Dallas. You came to this University as freshmen or transfer students and are now leaving as triumphant college graduates. Today is our day to celebrate and be commended, but we also need to celebrate the people who helped shape us to who we are now. Today represents the beginning for all of us, and I encourage you to say, “Thank you.” Thank your friends, appreciate your professors, and love your families for all they have done to help you to this new beginning. I would like to personally thank my parents for being there for me and supporting me through my life decisions. I am standing here before you speaking on this auspicious day because of my parents.

To sum up, do not forget the lessons of the past. Always try and remember to stay humble throughout your life as you continue to achieve success in the future. Remember to be a leader, not to be afraid of failure, and learn something new that could help others every day. Rather than saying something awe-inspiring or ending with a wise word from a scholar, I want to leave you all with a line from a personal hero of mine. In the immortal words of Fergie from The Black Eyed Peas, “Tonight’s gonna be a good night!” 

Thank you, and congratulations Comets!


Syed Rasheed graduated magna cum laude with a double degree in psychology, and child learning and development.

He transferred to UT Dallas in 2011 from Collin College and received a transfer scholarship and a Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship. He is also a recipient of the Phi Kappa Phi travel grant and the Patti Henry Pinch Scholarship for Undergraduate Research. He was awarded the Presidential Achievement Scholarship by the UT Dallas Office of Undergraduate Education. He is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Golden Key honor society, Psi Chi, Alpha Epsilon Delta and Tau Sigma and has been on the Dean’s List several times. He was also chosen for the Deans’ Scholar Program in 2011. In addition, he is also an AES freshmen mentor and a Dean’s Scholar mentor. He has been a teaching assistant in Behavioral Neuroscience for the past two semesters. He has been involved in research on and off campus and is graduating with BBS honors for completing his honors thesis at UT Southwestern Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics.  He was selected by the Office of Undergraduate Education to present his research at the Capitol building in April 2013. His research was also published in the inaugural issue of The Exley in 2012.