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Bachelor of Science, Molecular Biology
Bachelor of Science, Chemistry

It’s an honor to be here, and I would like to thank the faculty and staff of The University of Texas at Dallas. Also, I would like to thank the audience who could be here to support your graduates and make today so special. Today is so significant. For the graduates, today marks a moment of great accomplishment and marks the day we opened up Pandora’s box to the chaos and mysteries that await us in the future.

For the parents in the audience, today is graduation day. And today marks a sigh of relief. UTD Fall Class of 2016, congratulations. Today is yours.

You know, it’s interesting that we have the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, and the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, all graduating at the same commencement ceremony. That’s a lot of majors. From chemistry to criminology. Physics to poli sci. Sociology to actuarial science, and even geoscience to biology. But despite the differences in our undergraduate courses, it’s interesting to consider how we all got here.

Those long nights, those exhausted days of finals week, and that excitement before the start of each new semester to exceed expectations. Because here at UTD, we truly exceed expectations. Now if you all don’t mind, I’d like to talk about some interesting facts:

According to the Huffington Post, the average American drinks about 18.5 gallons of coffee a year. With an Einstein’s, an Outtakes, a Chick-fil-A, a Novel Brew, a Bob Marley coffee vending machine in the library basement and Starbucks at the Pub, I think it’s safe to say here at UTD we probably exceeded the average coffee consumer in a year.

UT Dallas ranks No. 1 in Texas, No. 2 in the United States and among the top 25 in the world in the 2016 Times of Higher Education magazine list of the world’s most outstanding young universities.

“We can all agree that the world has enough people who are only interested in what they can take, so I urge you rather than seize the day, give the day.”

Another fun fact: About 70 percent of undergraduates receive assistance in paying for their education through need-based aid, merit scholarships and other financial aid. So if you aren’t in debt, thank your parents, or the taxpayers, or both! But whether you were on scholarship or not, I believe one thing we can all agree on is the following:

Class of 2016, we have come a long way. By the nature of our majors we have been challenged. We have sacrificed our sleep, our free time, and some of the best years of our lives, all to be in this moment, right here, right now. It seems to me that our sacrifice is the root of our accomplishment, and that our time and energy is embodied in that piece of paper we paid so dearly for. It’s not about the prestige of our school, or the size of the campus. It’s not about the GPA, because hundreds of people have achieved marvelous things without that. And it’s not about the diploma, for the same reasons as the GPA.

The honors are nice, the networking may or may not have been valuable, and the food was tolerable. But one aspect that stands absolute, is that we paid for the opportunity to demonstrate to the world how much we could give of ourselves. All our accomplishments, all of our success, have boiled down to this one common denominator. Only we know how much we gave, and only we alone can judge ourselves by our own standards. For those of you who achieved more than you ever imagined here at UTD, we applaud you for all your hard work. For those of you who are looking to continue your education, we wish you nothing but success. But regardless if today marks the end of your higher education or simply another beginning, we must never forget the following:

Those who tend to get the most success, tend to give the most. We raise our own influence by lifting others up. And we lead others by giving them something to follow. To our future doctors, lawyers, politicians and entrepreneurs: Be sincere, and never stop giving yourself.

We can all agree that the world has enough people who are only interested in what they can take, so I urge you rather than seize the day, give the day. Give today to your friends and family who have stood by your side and listened to all your woes. Give your parents the chance to take a couple of more pictures of you in your robes without you becoming impatient. Give your past to oblivion, because it’s never too late to become who you are meant to be and past success never guarantees future success. But please, I urge you, above all else, give your future to a cause that matters.

Whether you decide to teach, research Parkinson’s disease, raise a family, or do all three, give it everything you’ve got. And don’t slow down or stop giving. Comets never slow down. Comets stop for nothing. But when one does stop, they make a tremendous impact and they leave a huge crater to tell the world that we were here, and we did great things.

We are all Comets now. Every one of us. And we are fearless.

Thank you.


Daniel Gonzalez graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in molecular biology and chemistry. After graduation, he plans to work for two years to save money for law school and medical school. He someday hopes to reform the U.S. medical system to limit loss and better serve the people.

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