A Glimpse of Graduation

Molly McGregor

Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering

Welcome distinguished guests, graduates, staff, faculty, family and friends. I would like to take this moment to thank everyone here – and watching on the Internet – for their constant support and encouragement during our years at The University of Texas at Dallas, with a special thanks to Mrs. Katz for encouraging me to give this speech.

Profile Photo of Molly McGregor

Graduates, we have accomplished a lot these past four years. The first and foremost accomplishment is the fact that we have made it to this point. We are minutes away from the moment we have been working toward all these long years, the moment in which we proudly walk across this stage, shake the hand of President Daniel and walk away with our beautiful... empty diploma folder. Don’t worry though; your diploma will arrive in six to eight weeks once they make sure you didn’t bomb your finals.

We all know that a degree isn’t just about the piece of paper that declares that you have been educated. The real value in a diploma is the knowledge that you have gained through the process. This knowledge is priceless. It’s hard to recognize this during the long all-nighters before exams or by looking at the material from our classes that we thought was going to be useless. However, the day will come when we look back and we will be thankful to all of our professors.

Many of us have taken advantage of the industrial practice program and the career fairs at UT Dallas. As a result many of us have already had internships or summer research positions. These have been invaluable experiences that will let us leave this institution with life skills. Furthermore, as a result of these efforts many of us will leave UT Dallas with job offers or research positions in hand. Be thankful. This is quite an accomplishment in today’s economy.

The accomplishment that is closest to my heart is that this year the first group of undergraduate mechanical engineering students will proudly walk across this stage. This program has matured at an incredible rate, beginning in fall 2008 with an incoming class size of seven students, to fall 2011, which welcomed 119 students. It has been a challenge for the students and faculty alike, but I’m certain that we will see excellent things come from this program.

“As you look toward your future, I hope you will follow your passion and spend your life doing something that excites you. Always remember that your life is full of difficult choices, and that nothing will bother you more than what you are too scared to do.”

In the past four years, we have seen our University grow a great deal. For starters, the University has improved the mall and added several new buildings and degree programs. We have welcomed several grandmaster chess players into our ranks, and we even started a rugby team that almost went undefeated this season...which, let’s be honest, is a little bit closer to football than chess is.

In the 25 years since the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science was established, the University has seen research involving cochlear implant technology, next-generation wind energy conversion systems, and chips that can turn mobile phones into devices that can see through walls, wood, paper and other objects. All of this, along with doubling research funding in ECS since 2003, will help us achieve Tier One status.

These accomplishments and changes have not been fast or easy. In fact, we spent a large portion of our college experience navigating construction detours. For mechanical engineering students this was as true inside our degree program as it was outside our classroom doors. But, the graduating class of 2012 possesses the ability to adapt, and we have navigated the changes through the years beautifully.

As you look toward your future, I hope you will follow your passion and spend your life doing something that excites you. Always remember that your life is full of difficult choices, and that nothing will bother you more than what you are too scared to do, even if those choices will likely lead to failure. As wiser people have reiterated time and time again, failure is the key to success. It strips us bare and reveals our true character, which will in turn allow us to pursue our passions.

In the words of Tom Brokaw, “You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. [But] Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.”

Now it is time for all of us to take our places, make our marks and live our lives, but before we do, look around at your classmates. The people that you see are those who have shared important years of their lives with you. Remember them. Some of these people will become your lifelong friends.

I hope this will be a day you remember. Thank you. And good luck in all of your future endeavors, although based on the experiences I’ve had with you, I don’t think you’ll need it.

A graduate of the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Molly McGregor graduated from UT Dallas magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. She is the founder of the UT Dallas chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and served as president, communication coordinator and national chapter adviser throughout her years at UT Dallas. In recognition of her contribution to the UT Dallas chapter of ASME and her record of academic excellence, she was chosen as the 2011 ASME undergraduate student of the year. McGregor received an Undergraduate Research Scholar Award and has been on the Dean’s List every semester. During the past three summers, she interned at DRS Technologies and Bell Helicopter. After graduation, she plans to continue in the mechanical engineering master’s degree program at UT Dallas.