Benjamin Tijerina

Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering

Good morning, President Daniel, Dean Spong, faculty, staff, graduates, family and friends. I would like to thank everyone for being here. It is an exciting time for us graduates. We have been waiting for this day for quite some time, and we could not have done it without your encouragement, support and guidance. So again, thank you.

With graduation fresh on our minds, I cannot help but think about how time has flown as I reminisce on our times here at UT Dallas. Just the other day we were moving in together, ready to explore, full of eagerness and anticipation over starting this new chapter in our lives. We were finally away from our parents. and we could not have been more excited. … No offense, parents. We were ready to change the world, or at least to stay out past curfew.

Profile Photo of Alan Howell

We came to UT Dallas aspiring to be engineers and computer scientists while also eager to become involved in student organizations, intramurals, club sports or collegiate athletics. For myself, and most of us here, we felt confident in our attributes, whether it was community service, Student Government, or even soccer. But when we looked at the school catalog where all of our choices were outlined for the next four years, we felt overwhelmed and unsure about whether being an engineer or a computer scientist was the right choice for us. 

As we progressed through our lower-level engineering classes, a recurring theme began to appear: We felt fear and questioned our abilities. We mustered up determination, and we endured. We made mistakes … a lot of mistakes. I am reminded of a quote by George Bernard Shaw: “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” We moved forward. We developed skills and persevered. Over time, we recognized strengths and resourcefulness that developed in us. And then the process started over.

As we advanced through our classes, I dare say many of us began to see ourselves as much different people than we were when we first came to UT Dallas. We learned to embrace our mistakes, as these have led us to greater successes and strengths than many of us thought we were capable of four years ago. Through our mistakes, we learned humility, we learned to be open-minded to diversity of thinking, and we learned to trust ourselves and to embrace the talents we have discovered within ourselves.

The phrase, “There is no correct answer,” does not fly very well with engineers and computer scientists. We always look for a finite answer, and to do this we have learned to open our minds up to different ways of thinking through a problem. It is with this open-mindedness that we leave UT Dallas knowing that we can work through hardships, challenges and life.

“Through our mistakes, we learned humility, we learned to be open-minded to diversity of thinking, and we learned to turst ourselves and to embrace the talents we have discovered within ourselves.”

More than anything else, we have learned to never give up, to always keep trying and to do whatever needs to be done. Just as in soccer, where we do not focus on the games remaining, but instead on the game we have now and how to do the very best we can possibly do. In college, in engineering, in soccer and in life, we are all competitors, working together, to bring out the best in ourselves and in each other, fighting everyday battles and coming out ahead, no matter the results.

Now that we look back on our four or four and a half years here, the changes inside ourselves are at least as great as the changes we see around us on campus, we have so much more than just a diploma. Because we have changed and grown as people, we know now that we possess the knowledge and skills to adapt to whatever comes our way. It is these invaluable skills that are a foundation to the next chapter in our lives. So as Steve Jobs said: “Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently – they're not fond of rules. ... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. ... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” This sure has been one crazy ride, fall Class of 2013, and this is only the beginning.

With this I tell you, embrace today. You’ve earned it. Be proud, be excited, be nervous, but most of all, be fearless. We now have engineering degrees from The University of Texas at Dallas and are well-equipped for every situation we will encounter. There is no limit to what we can overcome. Let’s go change the world.

Thank you.

Benjamin Tijerina graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He joined UT Dallas in August 2009 and has been invovled in multiple organizations during his time here. He has served as project chair for UT Dallas' ASME Student Section, president for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. He has done all of this while playing soccer for the UTD Men's Soccer Team. After graduation, he plans to head to Houston to work in the oil and gas industry.