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Sristi Gaur

Master of Science, Information Technology and Management

Dear fellow students, you and I stand together today in celebration of an ending to our journey at UT Dallas, and the beginning of another chapter in life. Many of us do not yet know how this new chapter shall look. It may look like a lot of acceptance letters, celebrations or rejection letters and unopened emails. It may look like rushing to interviews, scrambling to meet deadlines, and crossing out pages of checklists. At least it does, in my case. I hope you fare better.

However, whenever I get dejected, I can’t help but remember how my UT Dallas journey started. It did NOT begin on the day I got accepted, but on the day I was rejected. Yes, I did not make it to UT Dallas on my first try. I didn’t give up. I bounced back, worked harder and got accepted in the next semester.

Every failure makes a person stronger, more passionate and more determined. When I got the acceptance letter, I no longer just aimed to focus on academics — I wanted to make an impact, to give back to the UT Dallas community, to help the prospective students who may struggle like I once did.

As a result, here I am standing in front of you all as a commencement speaker representing everyone who is graduating today, hoping to motivate you all. Never ever give up in life. We finally made it, Comets. What a fantastic journey it was!

Today when I look back, I am proud to say UT Dallas was worth a second try. UT Dallas, and specifically the Jindal School, gave us all confidence to turn our limitations into opportunities. We owe this memorable journey to so many wonderful people in so many different ways. We owe our knowledge to the marvelous faculty of JSOM, who honed our skills, who made sure we are ready for the professional world. We owe our confidence to the magnificent team at Career Management Center, who taught us the power of networking. They inspired us to raise our heads high and trust our potential. I’m sure you’ve all experienced their dedication.

“Whenever I get dejected, I can’t help but remember how my UT Dallas journey started. It did NOT begin on the day I got accepted, but on the day I was rejected. Yes, I did not make it to UT Dallas on my first try. I didn’t give up. I bounced back, worked harder and got accepted in the next semester.”

And I’m sure each one of you graduating today was a part of one of the 56 student organizations in JSOM alone or a part of the 300 in UT Dallas. So diverse in background, in mission, in activities and in members, yet united in the mission of enriching the UT Dallas experience for all. In fact, the student org life has become one of my most memorable experiences of this grad journey at UT Dallas. I know, for sure, that my participation in the Project Management Club and Dean’s Council made me not just a better professional, but a better person.

As we embark on our new journey with new goals, here are three lessons I learned from my UT Dallas experience that helped me become who I am today:

Number one: Face life’s challenges with grace. Everyone here has experienced some kind of challenge in life. Remember, as Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma said, “Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” So, beat the challenges and emerge as a better and stronger person.

Number two: Stay humble and be grateful to people who have helped us. Always remember it has taken a lot of efforts from a lot of people to help us reach here. So, be responsible alumni and give back to our alma mater by providing a helping hand.

Number three: Steve Jobs said, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Be willing to learn. Step out of your comfort zone. Do what people say cannot be done.

Today, as we turn our tassels, let’s thank our real support system — our families and friends who helped us to get to where we are right now. On a personal note, I’d like to thank Dr. Monica Powell, senior associate dean, for being another mother to me as I have been living away from my home. Last but not the least, I’d like to thank my husband, who believed in me when I doubted myself the most.

On this auspicious occasion, I want to leave you with some motivational excerpts by famous author Lord Robin:

“Absolute solution comes from absolute problem, total acceptance comes from total rejection. Each one is coincident of another as dark is coincident of light.

Never give up rather wake-up, have a great shower, eat, dress up and join in the struggle. Neither dishearten yourself nor give ears to others' words, just keep faith on you and keep the struggle going...

I am sure, Success, it must lay its head eventually beneath your noble feet and will crown you as the king.”

So, let’s promise ourselves to believe in us and never quit. Thank you, UT Dallas, for making us proud graduates. Thank you, Comets and good luck on your endeavors. Congratulations, Class of 2017.

Sristi Gaur graduated with a master’s degree in information technology and management. A native of Gujarat, India, she is a recipient of the Dean’s Impact Scholarship and has been involved in the Dean’s Council and Project Management Club.

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