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Bachelor of Arts, Political Science and International Political Economy

Good afternoon,

President Daniel, members of the faculty, family, friends and everyone in attendance today, thank you for choosing to share this very special day with the graduating class of 2015 at The University of Texas at Dallas. On behalf of my fellow graduates from the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and the School of Arts and Humanities, we are honored to see you come from all across the world to be here today.

Several years ago, each of us made a choice that changed our lives. I remember finding out about UT Dallas as a senior in high school in Alexandria, Egypt. Quickly, and before my parents could realize what they were really signing up for, I sent in my paperwork for what seemed to be the opportunity of a lifetime.

"UT Dallas never failed to challenge us. From competitive academics … to a diverse student life and a constantly evolving campus, change and progress are routine at UT Dallas."

Little did I know, however, what UT Dallas had in store for all of us. From our first day of school, this University has provided the most welcoming atmosphere possible. The faculty, the staff and the students are always more than eager to go out of their way to help – no matter who you are, where you are from, or even how hard it is to pronounce your name. It didn't take long before UTD became home for many of us. After all, who could resist the unique charm of Temoc, the Comet pride we have in our undefeated football team, or the temptation of showing up to class on an early Monday morning in "publicly displayable pajamas"?

Yet at the same time, UT Dallas never failed to challenge us. From competitive academics – as my fellow graduates will tell you – to a diverse student life and a constantly evolving campus, change and progress are routine at UT Dallas. Who would have thought that a shy student from Egypt would go on to work as a Peer Advisor on campus, join Student Government, and stand here in front of you to deliver this speech? There is no doubt that my experience at UTD has made that possible. It has constantly challenged us to become not only better students, but better citizens and human beings as well. We owe so much of that to the professors who have given us everything – from a world-class education to personalized mentorship to prepare us for success. Please join me in thanking the outstanding UTD faculty members in attendance today.

In the past few years, we have grown, and UT Dallas has grown with us; the campus barely looks the same anymore, and neither do we. I believe that the most interesting fact about being a UT Dallas graduate is that no matter what you end up doing, the value of the degree you earned today will only continue to increase with time. As a UTD alumnus once eloquently put it in a speech at the 2013 Awards Gala, "Keep up the good work, Dr. Daniel, because the harder you work, the smarter I get!"

Choosing to attend this University was undoubtedly one of the best choices that many of us have made, one in which I personally hold a lot of pride. Yet no matter how proud we can be of our own decisions, we all know how difficult it would have been for us to get here on our own. In fact, the very things that we were never able to choose – our families and our homes – played a fundamental role in this journey. To every parent and family member in attendance today, thank you for your hard work, your support and your patience, because without you we would not be standing here.

Finally, I would like to congratulate every one of my fellow graduates. No matter where you started, how long it took you or how many all-nighters it required, you have all certainly earned your spot here today. I have no doubt that each and every one of you will go on to accomplish even more great things in life. But for now, let us celebrate the achievement that we so tirelessly worked for. Albert Einstein once said, "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school." So if in 10 years, we may forget the economics, political or literature courses that we have taken at UT Dallas, I am sure that we will never forget the life-changing experience that this University has given us. Thank you.

Yehia Mokhtar graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and international political economy. During the spring of 2014, he studied and worked in Washington, D.C., as part of the UT System's Archer Fellowship Program. After graduation, he plans to return to Washington to pursue a graduate degree at Georgetown University and begin his career with international development organizations.