Rescheduled Graduation Draws Thousands to Honor Fall Class of 2013
Dec. 18, 2013
Natasha Ghosh clutched a bounty of flowers and balloons after graduating with a master’s degree in human development and early childhood disorders. She stands in front of the new Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building.
One week after an ice storm shut down North Texas and the University, five rescheduled graduation ceremonies gave nearly 1,000 students the chance to celebrate with their families under sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s.
About half of the roughly 2,300 fall graduates attended Sunday’s ceremonies. Several hundred attended a reception for graduates with President David E. Daniel on the first day the University reopened, and others have decided to walk during spring ceremonies in May.
“Today, the feeling is unexplainable – it has been great!” said Chirantan Joshipura, who earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
Joshipura's emotion was shared by others, whose families flocked to the University’s Activity Center or watched a live stream of the back-to-back ceremonies online.
There was Thomas Maglisceau, a husband, father of two sons and principal at Rockwall-Heath High School, who earned a PhD in public affairs.
Glimpse of Graduation
There was Stephanie and Katherine Salavarria, a mother and daughter who both earned bachelor’s degrees in interdisciplinary studies.
And Meron Bekele and Azeb Feseha, childhood friends from Ethiopia who encouraged each other as they studied accounting so far from home.
Friends and family clapped and cheered as each graduate walked across the stage to be congratulated by President Daniel, deans and other faculty members.
Sunday’s commencement was an occasion that Kelly Brennan said she did not want to miss.
Chirantan Joshipura (right) came to UT Dallas from Gujarat, India, to pursue his master’s in electrical engineering. His mother and father, Jagrutiben and Kamalnayan Joshipura, celebrated with him Sunday.
“It took me four and a half years to finish my education. I’m the first one in my immediate family to graduate college, so to walk the stage means a lot to me,” said Brennan, who earned a bachelor’s degree in literary studies and a teaching certificate. “I have a little sister, and I wanted to be a good role model – I wanted her to see me walk the stage.”
Friends Heidy Lam and Shannon Sarkar said they would not have been standing in their caps and gowns Sunday if they had not had each other. The two graduates, both accounting/finance double majors, met two years ago in an accounting class.
Sarkar said they gravitated toward each other because “maybe they were scared of accounting” at first. “But once you meet that one person (to bond and study with), your entire perspective changes,” she said. Both are now searching for jobs in the Dallas area.
Army veteran Randal Terrell was joined by his wife, Tasha, and two daughters, Kayla and Brianna, as he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.
Randal Terrell, who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology, wore a veterans cord for his service in the U.S. Army and another for Alpha Phi Sigma, the national honor society for students of criminal justice.
He wore a red, white and blue cord, which is given to students who have served in the military. Terrell walks with a cane after a training accident broke his femur at the hip joint. His return from Germany after the accident was marked by extensive rehabilitation to learn to walk again. After remastering his mobility, he decided to master his education.
“(My leg) limits my ability, but it didn’t stop an education,” said Terrell, who finished his degree in three years.
For some, attending UT Dallas has been a shared experience with family members.
Stephanie Salavarria is a UT Dallas employee in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. She began attending classes in 2011 and was joined six months later by her daughter, Katherine Salavarria. Both completed bachelor’s degrees in interdisciplinary studies at the same time.
Similarly, graduate Naani Chando, originally from Zimbabwe, graduated with honors after starting the management information systems program in fall 2011. She is the first in her family to earn a college degree. But the next is not far behind, as her daughter attends UT Dallas as a biology and business double major.
Munashe Chando laughed as she said her mother was putting her “under a lot of pressure” by graduating summa cum laude.
“It’s been great setting an example for both (of my children),” Naani Chando said. “I hope they do even better.”
Stephanie Salavarria (left) and her daughter, Katherine Salavarria, both graduated with bachelor’s degrees in interdisciplinary studies. Stephanie also is an administrative assistant in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
For Mark DeCourcy, his graduation included a different sort of family connection. His father, George DeCourcy, a senior lecturer in finance and managerial economics in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, got to congratulate him on stage and hand him his UT Dallas diploma cover. The younger DeCourcy earned an MBA and master’s degree in finance.
“I’m proud to have this privilege,” his father said.
During his remarks, Daniel expressed his sorrow that the ceremonies had to be postponed, and he thanked family and friends for attending the quickly rescheduled events. He concluded each ceremony by congratulating the graduates, who he pointed out were the University’s newest alumni.
“Graduates, as you leave UTD for your next challenge, take with you the confidence that you received a world-class education from a truly exceptional university,” he said. “Your UTD degree is a key that can open many doors to you. Once you enter, the rest will be up to you, but I’m not worried – you’ve shown what you’re made of and proven what you can do.”