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Trissan D. Jones

Doctorate of Audiology

Before I begin, I would like to express my gratitude to both the University and the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences for allowing me to speak with you today. I can’t put into words how honored I am to be standing here, looking out at all of you, but it is for sure a humbling experience.

Profile Photo of Trissan D. Jones

While brainstorming for this speech, I tossed a fair number of ideas around. I thought about what I would say, what I would want to hear if I were sitting in your spots. The more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to two points. The first is that today is a unique occasion, highlighting not only our achievements as individual students, but also as a graduating class. The second is that although we have taken different paths to get here today, at this exact moment in time, our lives are intertwined. Each of us has worked long and hard, and has accomplished something amazing, and this is our celebration. Today is about every one of us, so, why not talk about us?

As students, we all have things in common, things that will keep us connected for years to come. Memories, places and moments in time in which you can say, “I was there.” Although our stories may be varied, the theme remains the same. We are all people, students, graduates and Comets. It is these attributes that have shaped us, helping us to move throughout our lives. And whether our paths cross again or not, it is these characteristics that create a common bond among us today.

So, what unites us as students? First and foremost, we all share a love of academics. Whether your love is innocent or passionate, we can all confirm that at some point we’ve embodied the eat, sleep, breathe mentality of school, a point our family and friends can likely attest to. Over the years, we’ve experienced a vast array of ups and downs, from challenging exams to compassionate teachers, all-nighters to lifelong friendships. And looking back, each of us can pinpoint something or somewhere along the way that helped solidify our love of learning. As you take the next steps toward your future, remind yourself of the moments and experiences that made learning worthwhile and kept you moving forward. It is these moments that helped get you here today and helped you accomplish such an amazing feat.

“As you take the next steps toward your future, remind yourself of the moments and experiences that made learning worthwhile and kept you moving forward. It is these moments that helped get you here today and that helped you accomplish such an amazing feat.”

So, what else can a group this large have in common, you ask? How about determination, perseverance, dedication? Being a student comes with a lot of responsibility, regardless of the number of naps you averaged per week. And in addition to our everyday tasks, we’ve been met with challenges we didn’t know we were equipped to handle, ultimately acquiring skills that while useful, aren’t the sort of things you’d put on a résumé. These run the gamut from completing a weeklong assignment in one night, to surviving on a diet primarily composed of candy, Red Bull, and any food you can get for under 5 bucks. How about skills such as consistently being the fastest test-taker; or figuring out how to work together on that awful group project; finally figuring out the best route to all your classes, or finding the perfect time to score a study space in McDermott? As we move forward, it’s important to realize that in addition to the skills we can share with a future employer, we have learned and grown outside the walls of the classroom. And although these skills may not build our résumés, they are building our character, creating a foundation for our futures.

The last trait we graduates have in common has to do with our relationships and interactions with others. Each of us has a group of individuals that comprises our support system, from professors to classmates, family members to the barista at your favorite coffee house. Each of these individuals has contributed to your success, helping in some small way to get you closer to your dreams, and today is for them as much as it is for us. By providing a shoulder to cry on, a joke to laugh at, or simply being available to you, no matter what time of day, these individuals have helped build the platform for your success. So I ask this of you: At some point in all of the excitement and festivities, take a few minutes to express your appreciation to those individuals. Let them know that what they did made a difference, that it helped get you here today, and that with their love, support, kindness and understanding, you have accomplished something amazing.

Graduation may be the end of one chapter of our lives, but it’s also the beginning of another. As we turn the page, we say goodbye to exams and homework, dorms and communal restrooms, student loans and stipends. We take our first steps into the real world equipped with the survival skills and education that the University has provided us. For some of us, today marks our journey into the job field, for others still, their journeys continue in education. Regardless of where your path leads you, I would like you to leave with this in mind.

The great Mark Twain once proclaimed that “the two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.” You have all accomplished great things, and every opportunity lies ahead of you, so go forward in life and find your purpose. Aspire to create, learn and grow. But always remember the path that got you where you are and the places and people that have contributed to your life and successes. Congratulations to the graduating class of 2014. You’ve done it. Thank you.

Trissan D. Jones graduated with a doctoral degree in audiology. She also served as a research assistant to Dr. Emily Tobey in the Childhood Development After Cochlear Implantation study and worked as an audiology extern at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders, working closely with the Dallas Cochlear Implant Program. After graduation, she plans to work as an educational audiologist for the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf in Arizona.