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Bachelor of Science, Neuroscience

UT Dallas, Class of 2015, we have reached the end of one journey and eagerly we await the beginning of the next. Let us not forget the magnitude of what we have accomplished here on this very day. We made it. We endured the challenges and difficulties of late nights, early mornings and long hours. Exam preps, course study, participation in campus life and yes, occasional binge-watching of our favorite Netflix shows, only to regret staying up the day afterward. Yes, we have achieved. We made it. We have enjoyed the good and pleasant times at UT Dallas and truly cherish the lessons learned. We have become lifelong friends, astute and relentless scholars, capable leaders and the future citizens of this world that we all share.

The experience of college life, for better and for worse, is in a direct parallel with taking a flight to one of your favorite destinations.

Let's talk about taking off. Taking off is essential, because it sets the entire trip into motion. Without the necessary energy, and courage to leave the ground, and in many ways for us, venture out of our known element, the story of our college experience could never begin.

Let's talk about weather. Sometimes, the skies are fair, and our flights can soar smoothly above the clouds. Other times, the power and might of weather can affect the ride. Each of us has been through some weather-filled, turbulent situations during our time in college. The personal trials, storms, clouds, wind shear and rains forged our characters and instilled within us the resolve that has allowed us to be here today.

"It is our honor, it is our duty, and it is our destiny to go forth and become the valuable citizens to the world that The University of Texas at Dallas has trained us to be."

Let's talk about our crew. Knowing that we could not have made the journey without the assistance of others is of paramount importance. Just as in flying a plane, we all needed a co-pilot, a flight attendant and control tower to help guide us through our journeys. When we were in trouble, needed help or felt that we knew it all, our crew of friends, family members, mentors, and advisors were there helping us to plot the best course. What's even more important is that we must acknowledge, thank and celebrate the many people who have served as our crew throughout our travel. Without our crew, our collegiate journey and flight would certainly not have been as smooth.

On this day, May 16, 2015, we are on final approach, the runway is in sight and the tower has cleared us to land. But our journey is not over. After you walk across the stage to obtain the degree you worked hard for, your destination will change and change again as you navigate through all the wonders of life. Our next trip will not be easy, and the destination may even be unknown, but there is no doubt in my mind that we will rise to the occasion, and meet and exceed the expectations of any challenge.

The last thing that I want to leave you with is very important. Now that we prepare to end our undergraduate studies here at UT Dallas, it is essential that we give back, come back and help those who are on their own collegiate journeys at this fine institution. We must serve others and reflect the values and principles we have learned at UT Dallas upon the world. It is our honor, it is our duty, and it is our destiny to go forth and become the valuable citizens to the world that The University of Texas at Dallas has trained us to be.

In closing, I would like to say congratulations to my fellow graduates and wish you all many safe takeoffs, successful flight paths and happy landings as we fly through the skies of life, together.

UT Dallas, Class of 2015, we made it. Congratulations.

Aaron Douglas Dotson graduated with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience, and a minor in music, with an emphasis in classical piano and composition. He is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the Golden Key International Honour Society and the Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society. He is additionally an alumnus of the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at the Yale School of Medicine, and a past summer research intern at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

He hopes to become a practicing physician and help fight healthcare disparities in minority communities.