1,640 Earn Diplomas in Graduation Ceremonies

Student Speeches Emphasized Community Service, Optimism for Life after College

May 12, 2008

Supported by their families and friends and filled with hope for the future, just over 1,640 UT Dallas students celebrated one of life’s great passages over the weekend: the end college life and their voyage into the so-called real world.

Held twice per year, spring commencement, which took place Friday and Saturday in the Activity Center, is typically the University’s largest. Among those receiving degrees were approximately 510 graduate and Ph.D. candidates and 1130 undergraduates. About 17 of the candidates from the spring class of 2008 received double degrees, including seven at the graduate level.

At UT Dallas, students compete to present an address at one of the graduation ceremonies. Selected by a committee of their peers and faculty, the potential speakers are judged on academic achievement, campus and community involvement and lecture content.

According to Dr. Michael Coleman, associate provost and dean of undergraduate education at the University, because there were so many excellent candidates this year, representatives from each school plus one graduate student were chosen to gives talks at the five ceremonies. The speakers were:

  • Jacqueline Timte — receiving her degree in business administration from the School of Management
  • Roza Baczkowska — slated for a master’s in accounting and information management from the School of Management
  • Conrad Capili — receiving a degree in child learning and development from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • Kerri West — with a degree in American studies from the School of General Studies
  • Jordan Youngblood — receiving a degree in literary studies from the School of Arts and Humanities
  • Andrew Stark — receiving a degree in electrical engineering from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Rachel Markowitz — with a degree in political science from the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences
  • Bree Szostek — receiving a degree in molecular biology from the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics


Many of their speeches expressed excitement and optimism for life after college.

“I don’t know about you, but I’ve always pictured graduation as this huge divide between youth and adulthood,” Rachel Markowitz said in her talk. “Luckily, we’ve each grown strong enough to leap that divide, with the help of so many professors, peers, friends and family. Now is the jumping off point, with UTD as our springboard.”

Other talks were peppered with reflections about the UT Dallas experience and quiet, thoughtful regard for the road ahead.

“These degrees reflect our effort and the support of those who surround us, not just our natural abilities,” Conrad Capili remarked. “So I implore you to keep pushing yourself and to use your knowledge for the benefit of those less fortunate in society. While considering how much you’ve changed these past four years, think about how much you can change others in the future.”

Jacqueline Timte had similar thoughts.

“During my time at UTD, I have learned three really important lessons,” Timte noted. “First, I learned that grades, though important, are not the only thing that matters; I think that the knowledge gained from experiences is sometimes more beneficial than the actual grade. Second, I learned that college is not only about the diploma that you receive at graduation; college is about providing students with opportunity to learn, diversify themselves and become better people. Lastly, I learned that college is about finding who you really are; it is about settling into an identity that is set apart from your parents or any other major influences.”

In addition to the student talks, UT Dallas President Dr. David E. Daniel also addressed the candidates at each ceremony.

Andy Stark, though, may have best summed up the feelings of all the graduates in attendance.

“After today, we will experience change in our lives outside of, but based on, our common university — some will move on to new jobs, some will start a graduate program, and still others might even go on a vacation,” Stark pondered. “Further down the road we will experience other changes as we move to a new place, start a family, or simply allow technology to affect our lives. Whatever the case, things are changing for us right now, at this very moment.”

Since its founding in 1969, UT Dallas has awarded more than 62,400 degrees. The largest of UT Dallas’ seven schools, the School of Management, awarded the most degrees during spring commencement with just over 550.

Next were the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences with 248; the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science with 214; the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics with 183; the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences with 165; the School of Arts and Humanities with 150; and the School of General Studies with 128.

School of Management degrees were awarded at 4 and 7 p.m. on Friday. Ceremonies for the remaining schools took place at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. on Saturday.


Media contact: Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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2008 Graduation

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