Bachelor of Arts, Political Science
Bachelor of Arts, Criminology
President Daniel, family, friends and fellow graduates: Good morning, and thank you for waking up in time for this 9 a.m. ceremony. Just a friendly reminder for your post-ceremony needs: The closest coffee place is out the main doors and on your right.
Like many of us, I went to summer camp as a kid. At camp we had a bead program, at which each camper would be awarded the colored bead that corresponded to the trait she best exemplified over the week. Now as a kid, my whole goal in life was to get a bead of every color, because at 10 there’s nothing cooler than a rainbow bead necklace. But it never happened; no, I was condemned to receive the same five beads over and over again: turquoise for creativity, blue for leadership, orange for determination, green for kindness and white for honesty.
I remember staring at those beads as a kid and thinking, “Man, orange and green should never go together.” Looking back, I take it as a sign: I was either meant to be here at UT Dallas or the University of Miami. Considering I’m too pale to really enjoy Florida, I’m fairly certain I was destined to be a Comet.
The connection runs deeper than just an unfortunate color palette. The characteristics these beads represent – creativity, leadership, honesty, determination and kindness – I see reflected in this student body every day. Creativity runs rampant across our campus, from the scientific innovations we produce in our labs to the seemingly unending number of flash mobs, performance artists, game designers, and circus clubs on campus.
Stepping out into the world as graduates of UTD, there is no doubt that each of us is fully prepared to take charge of our lives and become the leaders of tomorrow. Let’s be honest: UTD isn’t a school that breeds followers. Our whole model is devoted to breaking the mold: We’re a graduate school-turned-undergraduate-school, we manage to survive without a football team in Texas, and we give scholarships to chess champions, not athletes. Ingrained in every student that graduates from this University is the drive and capacity to lead, the desire to push limits and break molds.
We are pragmatic, we are determined, and we are dedicated. We don’t just set our sights on a goal and accomplish it; we set the goal, meet the goal, and then so far exceed expectations that the goal is left utterly defeated. We the people of UT Dallas are first-generation college students graduating with no debt. We are veterans, graduating and taking on new roles as professors and innovators. We are international students, making a name for ourselves and achieving success in a new nation. We are not just graduates; we are conquerors, and a new world awaits us outside those doors.
Despite all of our other wonderful qualities – of which humility is not present today – what is most striking about UTD is the kindness you find on this campus. UTD is a community in a way you don’t see at other schools. Students attend barbecues at their professors’ houses; the school hosts holiday parties for those who can’t make it home; professors know who you are and push you to do better because they care. We’re there for each other, whether it’s coming through with a last-minute Scantron on the day of the exam or staying up all night to make sure you finish that paper you procrastinated on all semester. Our sense of community fosters our success; we support each other, we invest in each other, and we push each other to be all that we can be.
“We are pragmatic, we are determined, and we are dedicated. We don’t just set our sights on a goal and accomplish it; we set the goal, meet the goal, and then so far exceed expectations that the goal is left utterly defeated.”
More than anything, UTD epitomizes the concept of “owning it.” We don’t shirk from our clashing colors or our nontraditional nature. Are we a nerd school? You bet. When are we going to get a football team? Football is for those who can’t hack rugby. Temoc is Comet spelled backwards, and we qualify our “whoosh” with a scientific disclaimer. I love it. We know who we are, and we will continue to be unapologetically and honestly awesome.
So as you take that next leap, I urge you to remember what you learned at UT Dallas. Think outside the box. Cut your own path. Never give up. Be kind to others. Be true to yourself. And above all, take pride in who you are and be confident of your success, because we are UTD. We are Comets: one in a million, exceptionally bright, and glorious to behold.
Megan Simons graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in political science and a bachelor of arts in criminology. She has been an active member of the Model United Nations team and the theater department. She is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Phi Sigma honor societies, as well as a student of Collegium V. She participated in the Bill Archer Fellowship Program and studied in Washington, D.C. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in legislative studies at UT Dallas.