A Glimpse of Graduation

Andrew Cyders

Master of Business Administration

Good afternoon. I would like to start by thanking President Daniel, Provost Wildenthal, Dean Pirkul and associate deans, Dr. Monica Powell, the faculty, families and my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to speak today. I do not want to take up too much of your time, as I know that I am standing between the graduates and the rest of our careers, so I will keep this brief.

Profile Photo of Andrew Cyders

I want to talk about one thing: recognition. Specifically, and I quote Webster, recognition is the “appreciation or acclaim for an achievement, service or ability.” As graduates, we have many people to recognize for their help in getting us to this point.

We should recognize our professors for sharing their time, their knowledge and their experience with us. While I had many amazing teachers here, I would particularly like to thank Dr. Suresh Radhakrishnan, Dr. Kannan Ramanathan, Professor Charlie Hazzard and Dr. Larry Redlinger, and Dr. Jeff Hicks and Dr. Padmakumar Nair, for their guidance throughout this program.

“For one moment, forget about the past and what you could have done differently. Right now, don’t think about the future, the career you will have when you leave these halls, or the accomplishments yet to come. Graduates, for this moment, recognize yourselves. You deserve it.”

We should recognize the program directors and administrators who saw our potential and gave us a chance, and supported us along the way. I personally would like to thank the Cohort MBA team of Lisa Shatz, Joanna Fowler and Lauren Carver for their hard work and patience, and for not getting mad when I rushed into their offices 30 seconds before class and demanded they print something for me. I also want to recognize Nancy Hong for her diligence and her energy, as the IIE (Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship) would not be same without her.

We should recognize the Career Center and professional organizations, which worked to connect us with prospective employers and provide networking opportunities. In my experience, Ken Sharp and Nancy Bouton were particularly important, as they provided a level of personal interaction that went beyond career advice, showing that they really were interested in my personal well-being.

We should also take the time to recognize the facilities staff, who kept the Naveen Jindal School of Management clean despite the best efforts of the student body. Between the students and faculty traipsing in and out, and all of the conferences and events held in the building, it is pretty remarkable that every morning I come in and the school looks pristine. I would also like to thank them for letting me into a classroom that I had locked myself out of at 2:30 a.m., which gives you an idea of how late they are here.

I would personally like to recognize the staff of the Starbucks on the first floor who played a major role in my success during this program. In keeping with the model nutrition that grad students are known for, I spent an ungodly amount of money on espresso and peanut M&Ms, and regardless of my stress level, the Starbucks staff was always very polite.

We should recognize our classmates for sharing their skills and working toward a common goal (most of the time). I met amazing people in all of my classes here at UT Dallas, and I know that as I move forward in my career, I will have a network of peers that will last me a lifetime.

Most importantly, we should also recognize our families, who supported us throughout this long journey. Whether it was financial, professional or emotional support, we should thank our families for their patience and their love. I want to pause and thank my grandparents, who couldn’t be here today due to health reasons, but I couldn’t have done this without them, and I hope they know that.

These people are all important, but for one moment, let’s focus on something else.

For one moment, recognize yourself. For one moment, recognize the work that you put in to get yourself here. Think of the countless hours you spent studying, poring over textbooks and making note cards. Think of the last-minute rushes and furious typing that helped you turn projects in on time. For those of you with families of your own, recognize the time you sacrificed with them to work on your degree, hoping to help them by advancing your career.

To my international colleagues, recognize the geographical and cultural distance you traveled to be here. It takes tremendous courage to go around the world to get a degree on foreign soil, and to do this with a language barrier is even harder. I have one classmate who told me that before coming here, he had never left his hometown in India for more than a week, so to come all the way to Texas for his MBA is a transition that few will ever experience.

Think back to the beginning of this journey. For those of you who left jobs, recognize the risk you took to pursue a degree. To leave an established position behind, especially in this economy, requires amazing courage.

Recognize your achievements. Think of the student organizations and case competitions that you took part in. Recognize the work that went in to preparing for exams and passing classes. Recognize the long hours you spent pounding out job applications and cover letters. Recognize the all-nighters and the caffeine dependency. Recognize how much you learned.

We have the rest of our careers to fight for recognition and to show gratitude to those that help us. This is our moment. This is the moment that we are recognized for our achievement.

For one moment, forget about the past and what you could have done differently. Right now, don’t think about the future, the career you will have when you leave these halls, or the accomplishments yet to come. Graduates, for this moment, recognize yourselves. You deserve it.

Thank you.

Andrew Cyders received his MBA with a concentration in operations and consulting. Before joining the Full-Time (Cohort) MBA Program, Andrew held roles in project engineering and logistics with Nokia Siemens Networks. While earning his MBA, he interned with Luminant and was actively involved in four team case competitions that resulted in two first-place wins, including the UT Dallas 2011 Business Idea Competition and the 2011 Humana Infusion Case Competition.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in business from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.