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TRENAE JOHNSON

Bachelor of Science, Computer Science

Dean Spong, distinguished faculty, administrators, professors, families, friends and fellow members of the Class of 2016. Good morning!

I am truly honored to be here today addressing you. Like many of you, I am an international student. But unlike many of you, I read all of Jerry Alexander’s emails, which is probably why I got this gig.

I was born and raised on a small island in the Bahamas and was sadly ignorant to a lot of other cultures and societies. But ignorance is not bliss — it is merely an excuse to be lazy and mediocre. Since joining this university, I have learned about Diwali and Shah Ruhk Khan; “Wo hui shuo Zhong wen, dan bu hao” (I speak a little Chinese) and that diversity and inclusion are more than just words on a pamphlet to make a place seem more “relatable.” Diversity at UTD is not just something that is tolerated, but embraced.

“Since joining this university, I have learned about Diwali and Shah Ruhk Khan ... and that diversity and inclusion are more than just words on a pamphlet to make a place seem more 'relatable.' Diversity at UTD is not just something that is tolerated, but embraced.”

Society carelessly throws these words around, but when I walk into interviews and they see a young, black, female programmer, to say they are shocked, is too polite. During an internship, I suggested an idea for doing something differently in a meeting with my team and the managing director, and I was told that “women just don’t do that.” Today, I graduate from this prestigious university with a bachelor’s degree in computer science speaking to the graduating Class of 2016; and in the words of Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a woman?”

So after being here for four years, or five … or six, you are officially a part of this “real world” we’ve all heard so much about. Yes, the one where you have to get a job and work extremely hard. The one you’ve probably been a part of since freshman year, working part time while taking 18 credit hours and being active in an on-campus community. Now! Yes, friends now, we are finally a part of it —freshmen of the real world, one might say.

So here are a few things I’m sure we all wish our freshman self knew, and our senior self will hopefully soon accept:

  1. Coffee is not a food group. And it never will be.
  2. Live a balanced life — how you perform is directly correlated to how much you invest in your personal health and growth.
  3. Believe in yourself. Because if you don’t, why would anyone else?
  4. And of course, stay nerdy!  

To quote the motivational speaker Les Brown, who uses a poem by Berton Braley in his speeches:

“If you want a thing bad enough to go out and fight for it, 
to work day and night for it, 
to give up your time, your peace and your sleep for it…
if all that you dream and scheme is about it, 
and life seems useless and worthless without it…
if you gladly sweat for it and fret for it and plan for it 
and lose all your terror of the opposition for it…
if you simply go after that thing you want 
with all of your capacity, strength and sagacity, 
faith, hope and confidence and stern pertinacity…
if neither cold, poverty, famine, nor gout,
sickness nor pain, of body and brain, 
can keep you away from the thing that you want…
If dogged and grim you beseech and beset it, 
with the help of God, you will get it!”

Congratulations fellow graduates — we did it!  

 


Trenae Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. She has been involved in several organizations on campus, including Fellowship of Christian University Students, the National Society of Black Engineers, and she is a member of the Tau Sigma honor society. Over the past two summers, she has interned in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with JPMorgan Chase and most recently, JCPenney, where she has accepted a full-time position

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