Jane Slusher

Master of Business Administration

Good afternoon, Board of Regents, President Daniel, Provost Wildenthal, Dean Cunningham, Dean Pirkul, faculty, family and friends, and especially my fellow graduates. What a true honor it is to be standing in front of you delivering the commencement speech at the Jindal School of Management at The University of Texas at Dallas. Thank you all for each making today happen. I know some of you in the audience quite well, but for most, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you. However, we all have one thing in common – we’ve spent a lot of time in the School of Management, and coincidentally, a lot of time looking for a parking spot.

As I prepared for this challenge, I racked my brain. What advice could I possibly give to my fellow students? What do I know that could make a difference? What could I ever say that wouldn't make everyone fall asleep? And after spending some real time thinking, doing the best I could to avoid trite statements about reaching for your dreams or persevering, I did the best thing I could think of: I called my mom.

Profile Photo of Jane Slusher

And of course, in true “mom” fashion, she didn't tell me what to say, but merely helped me to see that I had everything it takes to come up with the speech on my own. And really isn't that what an education is all about? You gain functional skills; you do a lot of reading. Then you sit in a classroom with your professors and fellow students, and the answers to a case study or a valuation problem are teased out of you. No one tells you the answer outright; they make you think. They make you question your assumptions, gather up your courage, and speak.

“As students we've been fortunate to learn and grow in an environment where it is OK to be wrong. Expressing ideas, testing the waters and maybe saying something a little out of left field is what an education is all about.”

What a truly invaluable lesson that is – the courage to believe in yourself. The courage to maybe be wrong. As students we've been fortunate to learn and grow in an environment where it is OK to be wrong. Expressing ideas, testing the waters and maybe saying something a little out of left field is what an education is all about. The University of Texas at Dallas, specifically the Jindal School of Management, has given us an invaluable opportunity to find our voices. It has also provided us with the opportunity to learn how to think critically, to question our assumptions, and also what it means to be quiet and to truly listen to what others have to say. I’ve been privileged to see myself develop throughout the course of this program, and I feel confident in saying I’ve see my fellow classmates grow in similar ways. The education we’ve received at the Jindal School of Management has given us the cornerstone upon which we can build the rest of our lives. The skills we’ve been taught here go beyond the classroom – it’s not only about the functional skills, but rather because of this education we’re able to grow and find the courage to succeed as ourselves.

You’ve taken the time to sit here and listen to what I have to say, and I hope I haven’t made that experience too painful. But leaving here today, what do I want you to remember? Well, don’t remember me. I mean, who remembers their commencement speaker anyway? Instead, I want you to remember your time here. Remember long days in the graduate study lounge working on group projects. Remember the feeling of accomplishment when you finally figured out what they were talking about in your MIS class. Remember the advice you received from the Career Center about your resume before you went on that super-important job interview. Remember the time you spent during office hours discussing your end-of-semester research project with a faculty member. Remember the wave of relief you felt when your balance sheet actually balanced – and that you didn’t have to use any “plug” figures to make it happen. Remember that the Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas is your home now – and it will always be a resource for guidance, learning and support. Remember your classmates sitting next to you today, and be proud of your accomplishments. Congratulations, Class of 2014. Remember this is a time to celebrate!

Jane Slusher graduated as a scholar of high distinction with a Master of Business Administration degree. As a member of the Cohort MBA program, she participated in program recruitment and volunteer service events with a local KIPP middle school. Her team won first place in the 2014 International Emory Global Public Health Case Competition. She has accepted an administrative fellowship with Houston Methodist Health System.