A Glimpse of Graduation

Oren Lund

Bachelor of Arts, American Studies

You Graduate… and Then You Are One.

If I can put my nervousness about talking in front of a big group to the side, I really have a fair amount of graduation experience to work from.  I watched my older sister graduate, then my older friends, then my peers, … then my younger sister,… then my much younger brother.  Some time in there, I graduated from Culinary School. 

It’s not that strange for someone to take as long as I have to graduate…. You call them doctors usually, but anyway, I have seen some graduations in my day.

And invariably one question pops up.  I like the way a friend of mine asked this question.  She said, “You take classes, and professors teach you how to become whatever it is you want to be when you grow up, you cross that stage, and then… you are one?

What does this day bestow upon us?  What have we learned to be these last 4, 5, or 10 years?

The answer is- our education at the University of Texas at Dallas has earned us the opportunity to become students of our respective professions.  Once we walk out these doors today, the real learning begins. 

During your time here, you have learned how to speak whatever professional language that you’ll need in your career.  For me, I left culinary school knowing the difference between mayonnaise and hollandaise, between a chef’s knife and a serrated knife, I learned what parts of meat get prepared which ways.  But after I graduated, the day I stepped into my first real kitchen, my professional education began.  I slowly learned how to use those tools to produce great food.

UTD and the faculty here have prepared us.We now have the tools. In a few minutes, we will face the challenge of learning to use these tools to become great ourselves.

Our classes at UTD have given us the vocabulary, they have introduced us to the ideas and theories that we will need to know, they have enabled us to meet some of the great minds in their respective fields.  Personally, I have been able to learn from some amazing political and constitutional scholars and professors, I’ve gotten to work in the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, I have had, and taken, opportunities to do research with and for great people. 

UTD and the faculty here have prepared us.  We now have the tools.

In a few minutes, we will face the challenge of learning to use these tools to become great ourselves.

So when you go to work tomorrow, next week, next month, or whenever, don’t be discouraged- like my friend who came home beating himself up everyday because, while he had already graduated from med school 6 months earlier, he couldn’t treat patients as quickly or as accurately as a “real doctor” would.  He was given the tools to learn how to become a “real” doctor, but mistook that for actually being given the skills and experience of one.

From this day forth, everyday will be a challenge.We, the class of the University of Texas at Dallas, May 2007, now have everything that we will need to learn how to accept this challenge.

You aren’t born a great doctor.  While those who tasted “Oren Cacciatore” when I was 8 might disagree, you aren’t born a great chef.  You aren’t a political scientist, a molecular biologist, a lawyer, or a chemist as soon as you shake President Daniel’s hand and flip your tassle.  But with the professional language, the ideas and theories, the amazing contacts, and the wonderful role models that UTD has given us, we can humbly learn to become those things.

From this day forth, everyday will be a challenge.  We, the class of the University of Texas at Dallas, May 2007, now have everything that we will need to learn how to accept this challenge. 

Congratulations to everyone here, and may we all enjoy the education that is about to begin.  Thank you.

Oren Lund graduated Summa Cum Laude with a perfect 4.0 GPA in American Studies.  He came to UT Dallas having graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and working as a chef at both the York Street Café and the Ritz-Carlton.  In 2003, he was the Grand Prize Winner of the Great Wines International Food and Wine Competition. 

At UT Dallas he has been a permanent resident of the Dean’s Honors List, a member of the Moot Court Team, a winner of the All-American Mediator Award, and an Archer Fellow.  In fall of 2006, he completed an internship in the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  Following graduation he will begin law school at The University of Chicago.