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Master of Science, Information Technology and Management

President Daniel, Provost Wildenthal, Dean Cunningham, Dean Pirkul, distinguished guests, faculty, families, friends and Class of 2015. I have been a part of three graduation ceremonies before this one. The only difference was that instead of the graduation gown, I was wearing a Parking and Transportation bib and standing out there at the entrance wondering how it would feel to be here. Well, here I am nervous as hell and hoping not to mess up.

Look around you. Today is all about us – over-emotional family and friends, blazers, robes, a hundred pictures and thousand posts to follow on social media. We all came to UT Dallas knowing very little of what we would become or what we would accomplish, but we are leaving knowing who we are, and that is a gift to be treasured.

So, "who" is this University of Texas at Dallas that we owe our careers to?

Our professors, who have worked just as hard for our degrees, made those complex algorithms simpler and easier. At times, we questioned their methods, but not once after we started noticing the results. Every time that we thought of giving up, every time that we questioned our capabilities, there was someone who gave us the courage to keep fighting, who said success can be delayed but not denied. From the land that I come, teachers are revered. The expression goes, "Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava, Aacharya devo bhava." The meaning is, "Regard you mother, father and teacher as a god". To me, it was Professor Jeff Hicks, a teacher par excellence. Ever wondered if it would be possible to sit through those afternoon lectures without a Starbucks coffee? The Comet Cabs on wintry nights were a blessing. Those uber-cool furniture pieces in the new JSOM Extension make you want to study an additional 30 minutes. Apart from our faculty, there is somebody out there, always willing to offer help in tweaking our résumés, in getting our classes registered, and attending to our needs but never expecting any recognition for the services rendered. The University has grown with us and has been receptive to our needs by providing us the right environment to excel.

"We all came to UT Dallas knowing very little of what we would become or what we would accomplish, but we are leaving knowing who we are, and that is a gift to be treasured."

The University of Texas at Dallas, specifically the Jindal School of Management, has given us an invaluable platform to learn the simple facts of life. The fact that opportunities are not given; you must fight for them. The fact that a leader is made and not born. Through more than 30 different student organizations, the Jindal School of Management has successfully bred leaders and told us it is OK to fail but not to stop. During one of my many interactions with our associate dean of graduate programs, Dr. Monica Powell, I told her, "During my time here, I would like to be a part of something that would continue to live on even after I graduate." Luckily enough, I was able contribute and make an impact at various stages during my time here.

I have been told that it is during graduation that you learn that you don't know half of your class, but not at UT Dallas. Here, we bond over free pizzas at student organization meetings, or on our quest to find on-campus jobs, and sometimes even when working on academic projects. In this short span of time, we have had the opportunity to meet individuals who were just as passionate and just as unconventional as we are.

Going back to my question, who is The University of Texas at Dallas? I would like to say that it is these people whose diligence helps us fulfill our motive to learn and explore. They help shape the future of UT Dallas as one of the premier institutions.

I believe graduation is a time to celebrate and recognize their efforts. I encourage you to thank these people who you think have made the effort to shape who you are. UT Dallas has given us everything; it is about time we gave back – through our vows today and through our actions tomorrow.

As students, we have always grasped much more from the two summary slides in the deck than the forty-seven slides that preceded them. Knowing this, I would like to leave you with three words that embody everything that I have said. They also spell out one of the most profound lessons that I have learned in this temple of knowledge called The University of Texas at Dallas: Treat everyone right. It sounds so simple and obvious, but sometimes as young college graduates we are obsessed with our careers, our diplomas and our goals at the expense of the important people in our lives. Remember what separates us as Comets is that we treat everyone right.

Class of 2015, this is The University of Texas at Dallas that made us who we are today. Congratulations, and thank you for this incredible honor.

Ankit Takallapaly graduated cum laude with a master's degree. He has been a member of the Business Intelligence and Analytics Tools Club and other student organizations. He worked as a graduate intern at YourCause, where he will work as a project manager after graduation.