A Glimpse of GraduationUT Dallas - 40 Years

Samia Hossain

Bachelor of Science, International Political Economy

Profile Photo of Samia HossainThank you Dean Coleman, Dr. Daniel, respected faculty and staff, friends, family and fellow graduates.  I am honored to be speaking with you on this momentous occasion.

When I was writing this speech, the greeting I just delivered was all I could come up with as my cursor blinked at me impatiently.  Granted, as I searched for sage words to deliver to you all today, my senioritis compelled me to check my email twice, “like” seven Facebook status updates and watch several YouTube videos.  Nevertheless, I pressed on, and I looked to the great speeches of the ages for inspiration: Lincoln at Gettysburg, Kennedy’s inaugural address, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream.” The problem is, I could never match the eloquence and presence of these leaders. Instead, I’ve decided to share some personal words of advice as we embark on life’s journeys, advice that my mother gave me on my first day of school in kindergarten: Be good, and don’t lose your backpack.

Be good: I have little doubt that what Mom meant by this was, don’t throw a temper tantrum or otherwise dishonor the family.  But what I mean by “be good” today is really “be great.”  During our time at UT Dallas, the University has taken solid steps toward becoming Texas’ next Tier One university.  It has introduced new majors, hired new faculty and built new facilities – as is evidenced by the war zone in front of Founders.  Our University is always looking ahead, to how it can be better and compete with the best not just in our state, but in the country and around the world.  We should do the same.

We’ve attended class with professors graduating from the world’s top universities, who not only teach the book, but actually wrote it.  Leadership opportunities at UT Dallas are unbounded, as we’ve had the ability to found and lead campus organizations, intern in our nation’s capital and study around the world.  My interest is in Islamic governance, and UT Dallas provided me with limitless opportunities to develop my knowledge in this field – in places pretty far from my hometown of Lewisville, Texas.  I studied Arabic not just in Classroom Building West (CBW), but also in Amman, Jordan.  I know about parliamentary governments from Government 2301, but also from conversations with Malaysian Parliamentarians.  My understanding of international economics spans from Dr. Labastida’s class to the semester I spent working at the World Bank.

Today is a day to celebrate the accomplishment of a degree, the end of exams and all-nighters. But today we do not just celebrate the end of our undergraduate careers, but the beginning of our life’s callings, whatever they may be. Like UT Dallas, we have the capacity to grow and achieve without limit.

We’ve each had extraordinary opportunities that have helped us become higher scholars, ask better questions, and achieve our highest aspirations.  Despite the current economic straits, the degrees we are obtaining today are tickets to becoming future ambassadors, national economic advisers and the great leaders of tomorrow.  Without a doubt, today is a day to celebrate the accomplishment of a degree, the end of exams and all-nighters.  But today we do not just celebrate the end of our undergraduate careers, but the beginning of our life’s callings, whatever they may be.  Like UT Dallas, we have the capacity to grow and achieve without limit.

Mom’s second piece of advice was to not lose my purple-vinyl Lion King backpack.  So in essence, I say don’t lose the things you are leaving here with – all the memories, relationships and bonds you’ve formed at this institution.  Some of our collective memories everyone remembers: A historic presidential election, the Twitter revolution and John Edwards’ baby mama drama.

But some of our memories are more familiar, as when somebody proposed on the spirit rock or when classes were canceled because of 6 inches of snow in February.  The friendships and relationships we formed here were with people from diverse cultural and academic backgrounds, all of whom are gifted – many in World of Warcraft.  Each of our undergraduate experiences was unique, but unified in a common richness.  The people I met and worked with on this campus helped me grow into the adult I am today.  The faculty here was deeply invested in our intellectual and personal development, always willing to talk about class, future opportunities and our big life decisions.  My faculty mentors wrote me countless letters of recommendation, sweated over my law school decision and even invited me into their homes.  What we take as usual business is nearly impossible at other schools – our professors called us by name, we did graduate research as freshmen … and our football team remains undefeated.  In a few minutes, we will be alumni of this University, carrying green and orange with us wherever we go.  We owe it not only to UT Dallas, but to ourselves, to never lose sight of the good times and lifetime bonds we formed during our time here.

Mom was proud when I came home from my first day of school – not only did I bring home all my crayons, I even got a “good job” sticker on my take-home folder.  I know she’s much prouder of the degree I am receiving today, from a university I’ve had the opportunity to leave my mark on, and which has impacted me and my future deeply.  My fellow graduates, I will never forget our time together at The University of Texas at Dallas, and I look forward to learning about all your venerable accomplishments.

Good luck, Class of 2010, and congratulations.

Samia Hossain graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in international political economy from the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.

Hossain came to UT Dallas through the Eugene McDermott Scholars program. While completing her degree, she was a member of Student Government, Student Ambassadors, Model United Nations, University Democrats, The Muslim Student Association and Students for Environmental Awareness.  She has been a frequent member of the dean’s list and a member of Collegium V, the University’s honors program.

Beyond campus, she took graduate-level courses at HELP University College in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship recipient, she studied Arabic in Amman, Jordan.  As an Archer Fellow, she spent a semester in Washington, D.C., interning at the World Bank. She also studied in Egypt through George Mason University.

In May 2010, Hossain won a nine-month award from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which she will use to study language and literature at the American University of Cairo’s Arabic Language Institute. She also won a Critical Language Enhancement Award to continue her Arabic studies with private tutoring from Arabeya Arabic Language Center in Cairo for three months following her Fulbright-supported studies. Upon the completion of the program, Hossain will attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley.