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Lauren Alexis Longoria

Bachelor of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies

Good afternoon. It is truly a dream to stand here before you all on this great day of accomplishment, victory and thanks, as my fellow graduates. As we receive the diplomas we have long worked for, I would like to also extend congratulations to all of the beloved people in the audience. You have all played a role in this journey. Without your support and commitment, this milestone would not be as rich.

If I had to sum up my undergraduate experience here at UT Dallas in one word, it would be transitions. College is all about transitions. From moving, making new friends, exploring majors, and experiencing new restaurants and cultures, everything is a transition. Our UT Dallas experience collectively molds us for the next chapter, postgraduate life.

“We have all learned to come in as a force, shake things up and change the landscape wherever we land — much like actual comets.”

As Comets graduating in 2017, we will be transitioning from a campus-centric viewpoint to a broader perspective. We are well-prepared for this transition, thanks to all we have learned and experienced right here in Richardson, Texas. Some might find that odd to say since we are in the middle of the suburbs, but what I have been fortunate enough to be a part of is something so unique that I do not think there is another place like UTD. I believe we are a model to be admired, how we Comets transition and acclimate to change. In my personal experience here, I would say that learning how to transition is one of the most valuable skills I have learned from all of you and alumni who have walked across this stage.

My first memory of freshman year was when I went to a residence hall picnic with my roommate. I had been confident that moving to UTD would be easy for me. After all, I did come from a 5-A high school. Immediately at the picnic, I heard several languages that I had never heard before. No one looked like me, my roommate was conversing with her high school friends in another language and I felt like I had just been dropped off at an international airport with nowhere to turn. I remember feeling so overwhelmed that it made sense to me now why some people left and went right back home, where they came from. I vowed never to admit I wanted to hightail it back home for a brief moment, that is until right now. But it was the culture of this campus that encouraged me to keep going and make the leap.

It is no secret how diverse our campus is, and I feel like that is one of our biggest strengths as a university. Before coming to UT Dallas, I had never been with a group of people where it’s normal to know three languages, or have parents from separate parts of the world, and all still connect as students or even, dare I say, just as people. While looking at the landscape of our campus and understanding just how many nationalities we have here — our vastly different religions, lifestyles and even majors — the beauty is, in that transition, we find common ground as fellow Comets. 

Each day we rub elbows with people who are nothing like ourselves, but as a whole, the level of respect never waivers. At UT Dallas, we are able to transition from the superficial into something more — expanding our thoughts and making new insights and discoveries as we discover new ways to think and grow. Our melting pot is a gleaming example of how diversity can be fostered into a productive environment. Just look around.

Our campus itself is ever-changing. I have attended more ribbon-cuttings than most mayors, we have welcomed the University’s fifth president, Dr. Benson, and have not skipped a beat into our new leadership. When no one is fighting to tear each other down, we can all build each other up and learn how to best transition into the next phase.

As graduates, we have completed our goal and are now sitting in anticipation of what our tomorrows will look like. Although this transition can be daunting, I venture to say that as Comets, it is in our nature to not be easily shaken despite the ever-changing climates we may find ourselves in — and I’m not just talking about the Texas weather. We have all learned to come in as a force, shake things up and change the landscape wherever we land — much like actual comets.

I am proud to say I am a Comet, not just for the degree I will soon receive, but because of the place, where I have learned so much, the respect I have for others and the privilege to call all of you fellow alumni. I have confidence that as we all transition into our next goals and stages in life, we will do so with grace and also teach others a thing or two. Thank you and congratulations Class of 2017. We did it!

Lauren Alexis Longoria graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with concentrations in health issues and management. She was a member of UT Dallas Power Dancers, serving as co-captain for the past two seasons, and worked in University Recreation and the Student Wellness Center as a peer health educator and bystander intervention specialist. After graduation, she will continue her education in public health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

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