A Glimpse of Graduation

Naomi Emmitt

Bachelor of Science, Business Administration

Good afternoon, distinguished guests, faculty, family members and fellow students.

Profile Photo of Naomi Emmitt

As we sit here today, on the brink of graduation, and as I look across this room, I’m reminded that each of our futures will be different, just as each of our journeys to this point has been different.

Each of us has a story that could be told of how we came to this precise moment. My own began in 1986. (Yes, I am just that old!) It’s been a long journey over the past 25 years. I began my undergraduate degree first at a private, Christian college in Iowa and then transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where I began studying communications-radio/TV/film. I was indeed a very traditional student. During my senior year, I was offered a position in Chicago at CBS Newsradio 78, and I ended up leaving school and not returning until almost 23 years later. It’s a decision I’ve regretted many times over the years, and at times even felt ashamed of.

“It is together that we look to tomorrow. It is together that we sit here ready to accept our diplomas. It is together we will leave this University as graduates ready to enter the world of our futures. It is together we look to tomorrow.”

Today, as you can obviously see I am not your typical college graduate. The common term that is used is non-traditional student. I am 43 years old. I am a full-time student, a full-time employee, a full-time mother of three and a full-time wife. I play the piano for my church, where I also chair the fellowship committee. Most days, I go 18 hours straight, living on caffeine and chocolate!

I came to The University of Texas at Dallas as a transfer student in 2009. I remember walking into my first accounting class that fall. I was nervous, unsure and somewhat intimidated by the youth around me. It was then I learned that many students who take night classes take them because they also are working during the day. It was then I first heard the term non-traditional student.

A non-traditional student has many definitions, but in short, we are adult learners, and there seems to be no shortage of us. The federal government has determined that 40 percent of American college students, or almost 6 million people, are 25 years of age or older.

A non-traditional student has learned how to balance life, work, school and family, all at an older age. We don’t usually take daytime classes, we don’t usually go out on Thursday night with friends, we usually don’t live on campus or in the campus apartments, and we don’t have a lot of time to reflect on tomorrow. We usually know our mission, and we execute it with precision. We have been seasoned by life and we accept that we don’t have as many tomorrows left as our younger counterparts do.

But with all this said, a non-traditional student cannot succeed without the traditional students. Any student who has taken classes through the Naveen Jindal School of Management knows that the professors assign group projects. It is together that we have worked on case projects and made presentations. It is together that we have studied for our exams and worried about our GPAs. It is together that we ate in the Student Union and the Pub. It is together that we look to tomorrow. It is together that we sit here ready to accept our diplomas. It is together we will leave this University as graduates ready to enter the world of our futures. It is together we look to tomorrow. A portion of us will be continuing our education as master’s or PhD students. Others will be searching for that ideal career.

Wherever our journey takes us after this day, we will no longer be known as traditional or non-traditional students, but collectively we will be known as graduates of The University of Texas at Dallas, class of 2011!

Today, on behalf of all of us graduates, I want to thank our families who stood by us during the joys, the tears, the tough days and the easy days. I wish to thank our professors who have taught us, mentored us and have prepared us for our futures. Personally, I especially want to thank my husband and my children who have loved me and stood by me as I finish this journey and supported me emotionally without ceasing.

The University of Texas at Dallas will always have a special place in our hearts. I wish each and every graduate here much success in your future journey. Thank you.

Naomi Emmitt graduated with a degree in business administration. Shortly after she began at UT Dallas, she was hired as the scholarship coordinator in the University’s Financial Aid Office. In addition to her studies, she has volunteered her time with the Wales House, a shelter in downtown Dallas, and is active in her political party.

After graduation, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in business administration.