Bachelor of Science, Biology
Thank you Dr. Daniel, Dean Piñeres, and all present faculty and staff. I would also like to thank my parents, my professors and advisers, and all of my peers for helping me get to where I am now. Finally, we owe our gratitude to Starbucks, Café Brazil, Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia, without which there is no way we could have made it here.
It seemed appropriate that as with many of my assignments over the last four years, the first place I needed to consult for this speech was Wikipedia.
After just a few clicks, I quickly came across something quite surprising. Here's something I'll probably never be able to say again in front of an academic audience: According to Wikipedia... the last time Earth was impacted by a comet was 65 million years ago. And sadly, for the first time ever in my experience, Wikipedia is wrong. I see Comets impact this world all the time. I know a Comet among us who woke up ridiculously early in the morning just to make sure a friend didn't miss a test. There is a Comet among us who decided that UT Dallas didn't have enough recycling bins and started an environmental club. Regularly, Comets use their spring breaks to build homes and help the homeless. I know Comets who have contributed research toward developing nanoscale biosensors, harnessing alternative energy and even curing cancer. Whether through small acts of kindness or life-saving discoveries, students at UT Dallas impact our world on a regular basis. Graduates, we've proved Wikipedia wrong. What's next, we find out Yahoo! Answers isn't reliable or something?
I say this jokingly, but this is something we have to continue doing – prove others wrong. Break down barriers. Disregard the old and invent new ideas and interpretations. Being students from UT Dallas, this should be something we are all accustomed to.
Think about it. We go to a public school – in Texas – that doesn't have a football team, choosing instead to put more money toward academic programs and scholarships. We go to a school where the mascot is a Comet, and its name is comet spelled backwards. We go to a school whose colors are orange and green. And you better bet we're proud of every last bit of it!
As soon-to-be alumni from such an innovative and nontraditional school, we have an obligation to take these lessons and push our boundaries to where we've never been before.
Being a biology major going to medical school, I've had my fair share of science classes. So for my last semester of senior year, I decided to try something a little outside of my comfort zone and signed up for improvisation. At no other point in my life have I felt so pathetically terrible at something than during the first day of that class when I had to act in a scene. But, you know what? As I kept going to class, I realized how useless it was to fear messing up. No longer scared of making mistakes, I tried new things. Most of the time, I tried something new that I thought was appealing, and it came out appalling. But occasionally, I would attempt a new character or line and it would be amazing. Now, I'm still an awful actor, but this class showed me that you really do learn best by taking chances and trying new things.
Throughout your lives, don't be content with what is comfortable, because comfort doesn't inspire growth and innovation. It will leave you stranded in mediocrity. Comfort isn't Temoc. Comfort isn't orange and green. Comfort isn't UT Dallas. Instead, bend a few rules and ask permission later. They're more like guidelines anyway. I wouldn't suggest that you go all Breaking Bad, but be willing to try new things, whether it be a new method, a new job or just a new hobby. As one of my greatest role models often said, "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy." Don't be the kid who foregoes The Magic School Bus to stay at home. Because only those who think beyond the sky's limit can reach the stars. If you leave yourself open to ideas, then the possibilities truly are endless.
“Whether through small acts of kindness or life-saving discoveries, students at UT Dallas impact our world on a regular basis.”
And I want to prove it to you right now. I'm going to show you that the Class of 2013 can make it rain right here in the gym. And without setting off any fire alarms. Wikipedia tells me there's no sound in space. But we all know that Whoosh is the sound that comets make as they fly through the universe. I want to show you what it sounds like when comets rain down on earth. Don't worry, you won't need any umbrellas, but I do need everyone to participate. Because if this doesn't work, I can guarantee we'll be pushing the bounds of comfort. I'm going to show you something called the rainstorm that I experienced in high school. It's important that everyone stay completely silent for this, because speaking will ruin the effect. I'm going to wave my hand across the gym, and much like doing the wave, when I point to you, I want you to do the action that I demonstrate. Friends and family, feel free to join in.
Do you hear that?! That is the sound of hundreds of comets raining down on this gym. That is the sound of endless possibilities. That is the sound of comets making an impact.
Sachin Shah graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He is a member of the McDermott Scholars class of 2009. He is also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society and a repeat Dean’s List honoree. Over the past two summers, he has taken classes in a castle in Italy, studied at Oxford University, and volunteered in New Zealand. After graduation, he plans to enter UT Southwestern, where he will pursue his medical degree.