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NUSHA LALEH

Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Before I begin, I would like to thank all the professors, staff, parents, relatives, and friends who have spent time and effort working with and motivating the graduating students. Clearly you all did something right since all the seats are full of caps and gowns. So thank you!

I would also like to congratulate all the students in this auditorium. We endured all the group projects, finals and copious amounts of coffee. We have just finished a chapter of our lives and are about to leap forward, tackle tomorrow's challenges and overcome any obstacles – still with a coffee in hand, mind you.

But let's backtrack, right to when we first began at UT Dallas. We were different people. Think doe-eyed freshmen, ecstatic that their first classes of the day didn't start until 10 a.m. We have evolved since then and later tried to schedule all classes only on Tuesdays and Thursdays in a four-hour block so we wouldn't have to look for another parking space the rest of the week.

We have all learned tips and tricks to surviving the past few years of our rigorous academic lives. Being efficient with my time wasn't the only thing I learned. Less than a year ago, I was studying for a wave of finals with a great friend of mine. I had this tendency to have mini-panic attacks during these stressful times, and he never failed to calm me down. I always worried about not getting the highest grade in the class or how this would affect me further down the line. I will never forget what he said when I could barely breathe: "Stop underestimating and comparing yourself to others." These few words resonated deeply for me and are worth sharing.

The beauty of this quote lies in the multiple interpretations of it. The first one being: Here at UTD, we are unique. It's true all of us have earned the same sheet of paper, but our individual experiences mold who we are. It's what you have learned along the way and what you do with that education that make your graduation today distinctive

We all have different strengths. And we all have different hobbies. Some love Pokémon or "World of Warcraft," and others prefer anime. Some also like playing sports or competing in combat robotics (yes, I mean building a robot that crushes other robots). There is something for everyone here. And instead of looking at each other like competition, we've leaned on our classmates during the late-night study sessions, stood in line together for the 100th time someone offered free pizza, and mobbed our teachers to persuade them to change homework due dates (to the professors listening: You didn't hear this from me). But even though we are leaving this safe haven that taught us it's OK to be who we are, we will still take those values and apply them wherever we go. We are tolerant of others and strive to be the best version of ourselves no matter how difficult the future may be. I am proud to call each and every one of you my fellow alumni.

“It's true all of us have earned the same sheet of paper, but our individual experiences mold who we are.”

My second-favorite interpretation is to go at your own pace. I cannot stress this enough. This next chapter will not be easy, and you will always be meeting new co-workers or classmates that will be one or two steps ahead of you. And that's OK, because they too started right where you're sitting. It's not a race, it's a journey. Enjoy the blissful moments, such as having your family and loved ones with you here today.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you again to the inspiring teachers, hardworking staff, crazy friends and supporting families that helped us all along the way. With that in mind, fellow graduates, just remember to breathe: Your journey is just starting.


Nusha Laleh graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. She has been a member of the national champion UT Dallas Battlebots team and an active participant in the Society of Women Engineers. She has accepted a job with General Motors in the Powertrain Rotational Engineering Program in Southeast Michigan.

 

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