Nehal Mubarak

Bachelor of Arts, Art and Performance

Good morning. I would like to begin by extending a warm welcome to everyone in attendance today. Distinguished faculty, fellow graduates, family and friends — we are honored and grateful that you’ve chosen to share this day with us, especially since most of us probably won’t start functioning properly until noon.

Graduates, look around you. This is real. You made it. After thousands of grueling hours spent studying and attending classes, after four (or more) years of exams, papers and projects, after the third or fourth or fifth time you decided to change your major, after the days of inner struggle when you asked yourself, time and again: “Am I doing the right thing?”After everything, you managed to make it here, poised and ready to walk the walk of all walks.

Profile Photo of Nehal Mubarak

Let’s face it. There were times when you questioned whether you would ever make it this far. It could have been that one test, in that one class, that planted the first seed of doubt in your mind. “Am I cut out for this?” You might have asked yourself. “Should I be doing something else?” In the beginning, we all asked ourselves these questions at one point or another. As bright-eyed, anxious freshmen, we clutched our maps and — guided by nothing but a strange combination of nerves and barely contained excitement — we stumbled into classrooms 15 minutes late, apologizing profusely for not finding the right room on our first try.

By our second year, there was improvement. We slowly grew accustomed to college life, and watched UTD grow with us, as the first of many construction projects began. We started shaping our individual stories. Thoughts of the future and what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives took root in our minds, and soon we were taking more classes and joining organizations, meeting new people and building connections. The anxiety that had clouded our vision as first-year students slowly ebbed, replaced with a sense of comfortable familiarity.

By the time junior year rolled around, some of us had already made life-changing decisions. There were those who made the switch from pre-med to ATEC, from ATEC to computer science, from computer science to business, and others who valiantly chose to tack on another major to the one they already had. The third year of college might have been the most challenging for some and easy to handle for others, but for all of us it was a time to begin deliberating where we wanted to go and — more importantly — how we were going to get there. No longer the awkward, disoriented freshmen getting to class out of breath and in a state of disarray, we had reached the point in our college experience when the future didn’t seem so far off. Suddenly, there were career options to weigh and consider, graduate and professional schools to look for, connections to build and strengthen. We had to figure out a way to balance school and the world outside of school, a world we would soon find ourselves heading into.

“Whether we came to UTD from down the street or halfway across the world, each of us, in our time here, has been able to write our own story.”

Whether we came to UTD from down the street or halfway across the world, each of us, in our time here, has been able to write our own story. Think back to the first day you stepped on this campus, think of the tour your Orientation Team member gave you, and think about what you had been thinking then. I know for most of us, senior year was probably a blur of interviews and applications—some of us are still going through that process—but I want to leave you today with this in mind: After you walk across this stage, don’t think of it as an end to something that has already passed; think of it as the start of something that has yet to begin.

The walk you make today is a rite of passage to your own future, the next chapter in your story. Take your years at UTD, however many they were, and make of them what you will, but do not let them go to waste. Here you have had the privilege of receiving a world-class education from a well-seasoned and highly dedicated faculty, and now it is in your hands what you choose to do with what you’ve learned, and how you will impact the world around you. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourselves, to find new and innovative ways through which you can begin to make the same kind of changes that the University of Texas at Dallas has created for you. I wish you all the best in whatever field you have chosen to pursue, and I encourage you to dream because, as James Allen said: “Dreamers are the saviors of the world.”

Once again, graduates of the Class of 2014: Look around you. This is real. You made it.


Nehal Mubarak graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in art and performance with an emphasis on creative writing. She is a repeat dean’s list honoree and recently completed her senior honors project, a collection of six original short stories. She plans to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.