A Glimpse of Graduation

Zhaohan Li

Bachelor of Science, Accounting and Finance

Hello, y’all. Hola, amigos. Ni Hao, Da Jia Hao. It is difficult to express my excitement in only one language, especially at this moment. Fellow graduates, distinguished faculty and staff, dear family and friends, thank you for joining the Spring 2012 Jindal School of Management Commencement.

Profile Photo of Zhaohan Li

Today is the moment that we have been waiting for. Today is the moment that belongs to each of us. And today is not only the moment to say goodbye, but also the moment to say thank you.

For all of us, this is a great moment to recognize those who drew a silver lining on our undergraduate journey here at UT Dallas. Just as in the old saying, “It is better to have great mentors than to read a thousand books,” we have learned many great things from our great mentors at UT Dallas. Personally, I have learned the great importance of being confident, or at least pretending to be confident, even though I am very nervous now. From Accounting, we have learned to become self-regulated and consistent, and take opportunity costs and extraordinary items into consideration. From Finance, we have learned not only to be comfortable with uncertainty and risks, but also to take the option to invest in our future. From Marketing, we have learned the significance of self-branding and the ways to make ourselves become marketable in the current competitive marketplace. From Global Business, we have learned to observe the world with a cosmopolitan perspective and strive to become a global talent. From Business Administration, we have learned how to lead others, and more importantly how to lead ourselves.  From Management Information Systems, we have learned the omnipotence of information technology and the keys to become a successful knowledge worker. This list can also be continued to include every professor and staff member we have met at UT Dallas, as we learned different lessons from each of them. All of these great faculty and staff have encouraged and assisted us to pursue who we want to become. And it is these great mentors that have helped us become who we are today. So here I would like to share with you a wonderful saying, which I learned from Professor Charles Hazzard: “Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it.”

For all of us, this is also a great moment to celebrate what we have achieved. I still remember the first time that as an international student I went to a local fast food restaurant. After I ordered the dishes, a cashier asked me, “To go?” Being confused, I replied with “Where?” Suddenly, all the people around laughed loudly, but I was still puzzled and even embarrassed. The cultural differences between America and China made me uncomfortable, and I felt out of place, but I took the initiative to spend time learning about the culture here and successfully adapted myself to the new environment.

“All of these great mentors have assisted and encouraged us to pursue who we want to become. There is no doubt that it is our great faculty and staff at UT Dallas that have helped us become who we are today.”

In fact, all of us have spent time and taken effort to overcome difficulties while at UT Dallas. And there are many memories we share together at UT Dallas: the first time we got lost on the campus without a map, the first time we attended a college class with these once-upon-a-time strangers now around you, the first time we went to a networking event but did not know how to start a conversation, the first time we spent time studying intensively or cramming, and finally got an A for a college class, and so on. All of these have enriched our journey, and moreover, we have been growing with UT Dallas. During the past four years, our University has built the Student Services Building, the Visitor Center and Bookstore, the Central Plaza and two residence halls, and we are in the process of building the Arts and Technology Building and the third residence hall. Our Jindal School of Management has risen to the 37th Best Graduate Business School, according to U.S. News & World Report, and we will have a new SOM building by 2014. As Comets, today, we are proud of the achievements of UT Dallas, and tomorrow we will make UT Dallas proud of us. We are not only lucky to witness the growth of UT Dallas, but we are also responsible to create a better future for UT Dallas together.

For all of us, this is a great moment to move on as well. During my freshman orientation, I was asked this question by Professor John Barden, “How would you make a picture more beautiful, or more valuable as a business student?” The answer is to frame the picture. This is also what a UT Dallas education has offered us, and it has framed a better future for each of us. There is no doubt that UT Dallas has become a shining milestone on the map of our undergraduate journey, and we all know that the end of this journey is a new start for our next journey, so please start off with great passion from the Comet spirit in our blood. And please remember, UT Dallas is always with you.

Once again, congratulations, Class of 2012, I wish y’all a brilliant future.

Zhaohan Li, a native of Canton, China, graduated summa cum laude with a double major in accounting and finance. He completed his undergraduate studies in two years and has been on the dean’s list several times. He served on the Executive Council in the Collegium V Honors Program, was a member of the Davidson Management Honors Program, served as executive vice president of UT Dallas’ chapter of Ascend and was vice president of education for the Management Toastmasters Society. A Taekwondo black belt, he also was a tax preparer for the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. After graduation, he plans to undertake an audit internship at Deloitte & Touche and pursue a career in public accounting.