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Bachelor of Science, Supply Chain Management

Good morning, President Richard Benson, Provost Hobson Wildenthal, Dean Hasan Pirkul and guests. It is a great honor to be stand at this podium today. I should have been standing here many years ago when I was the same age as many of you graduating today. However, because of different circumstances that I have encountered in life, my undergraduate graduation day did not show up when it should have.

You see, I am not your traditional undergraduate student. My roommates have been my husband of 18 years and my three wonderful children. I did not participate in student government at UTD; I participated in a teacher appreciation committee at an elementary school instead. I did not play any sports; I took my kids to practice theirs. That is the reason why, many times, the best place to study for a test or write a paper was not in the library, but in my car.

Nevertheless, being an nontraditional undergraduate student did not stop me from trying to reach my goal of graduating from the University one day. Although now, I am thankful that this day did not occur before.  Because if not, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity of attending this prestigious University and meeting and befriending so many wonderful people from diverse ages and cultures.

There are times when we desire something with all our hearts.  And we are overcome with disappointment when our plans don’t turn out the way we had hoped. However, in life, we should not let our disappointments stray us off the path of reaching our goals. It is easy to dream of being like those we admire for their success; but often, we lack the knowledge of the struggle they have endured to get to where they are today.

“The road traveled has taught us many lessons. It has made us stronger, more organized, more responsible. ... And what I am sure of is that this road has made us fighters who can persevere.”

The road to success is not the same for everyone. For some it is a freeway without many distractions, obstacles or worries; they have the fortune of reaching success faster than others. But others, when reaching a certain point in their lives, make a decision to take a turn resulting in a longer journey to their destination. Many give up and get stranded on this road, as it is a complicated one.

However, we have all arrived here today driven by our firm convictions. We may have occasionally lost sight of the freeway, but after enduring the rough stretches, we are graduating today. Our motivation has been fueled by our determination to be successful and prepare ourselves to launch our careers.

The road traveled has taught us many lessons. It has made us stronger, more organized, more responsible. Remember those late-night study sessions, those practice problems, those very lengthy research papers — all making us resilient. And what I am sure of is that this road has made us fighters who can persevere.

Starting today, we enter the freeway of our careers. My experience teaches me that we don’t need to be afraid of making a mistake when we encounter detours. These detours can be the best mistakes that we can make. And I know, that if we choose to persevere, nothing will stop us and we will be victorious once more. Just as we stand here today.

Success is not necessarily immediate, and we appreciate it even more when a greater effort is required to achieve it. Don’t be afraid if the road becomes difficult; every journey has its own lessons. Remember, success is always within reach of those who are willing to persevere, regardless of what roads or how long it takes to get there.

For the faculty and the family and friends that join us today, and for those friends and family who are not able to be here but are in our hearts, we would like to say thank you. Thank you for being the gas that was in our tanks to keep us going. Thank you for being the jack that lifted us up when we were down. Thank you for being the oil that kept our engines running smoothly so we could be here today. As we go forward, you will be vital to helping us travel our new roads.

It is my sincere hope that these words that I have shared with you, as we embark on this journey, will encourage you to face and overcome the challenges that lie ahead and achieve your personal definition of success. Congratulations, JSOM Fall Class of 2016!


Luisa Fernanda Valls graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in supply chain management. After graduation, she plans to pursue a certification in the Lean Six Sigma program.

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