View More

Priya Mathew

Bachelor of Science, Neuroscience

Welcome family, friends, faculty, distinguished guests and, of course, graduates, to the commencement of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences graduating class of 2017. In Walt Whitman’s poem, “Song of the Open Road,” he writes: “I take to the open road — healthy, free, the world before me, leading wherever I choose.”

My dearest class of 2017, when we chose to come to UT Dallas, we chose a very rewarding path. So I would like to congratulate you on this momentous day for the achievement of completing your degree plan. But you have earned much more than that. You have completed some of the most formative, nurturing and enriching years of your life. And the opportunities that await after today are truly limitless.

But like every good book, our stories have a beginning, middle and end — a past, present and future. Today, we look back and remember who we were and where we came from before UTD. We think about our time at UTD and realize that it was here that we began to find our passion in research, audiology, medicine and psychology.  And that it was here that we began to form our identities. And that it was here that we became who we are today — through hard work, persistence, trials and failures.

And these moments of struggle and success should be remembered.  

We can all remember our first day at UTD — excited, nervous, eager to get every free T-shirt and meal available, impressed with the new levels of freedom and unsure what the next four years had in store.  We remember the 2013 snowpocalypse that suddenly made the skybridge seem like UTD’s best feature. We remember that one class which reaffirmed our career goals. We remember that moment when we realized Temoc was Comet spelled backwards. We remember those professors who went the extra mile for us. We remember our studies abroad and internships.  We remember those late-night conversations that turned into boba and Whataburger runs. We remember every late night spent studying, each early morning commute, group project, leadership role embraced, on-campus job and every friendship made along this lovely ride — which led you right to who you are today.

"I hope that as each of you move on, you take pride in this pinnacle achievement and continue to reach greater heights."

I like to think we grew intellectually and matured as the campus around us grew physically. I think I will actually miss the sounds and sight of the crane, which reminded us that this is home. But more than that, each year, I got to develop friendships — in classes, at the Student Success Center, at intramurals, in research, in the dorms and apartments, in the dining hall, on the Plinth, while volunteering and in different on-campus organizations. You inspire me and serve as a humble reminder that this university is great because of you.

I thank you for your respect, your friendship, your integrity and your gratitude. Now as seniors, my heart is filled with joy as I watched you decide that your calling is in research, as I celebrated with you as you got into the medical school of your choice, as I heard you decide that you need to take a year off to prepare yourself for what comes next, as I pushed through with you to overcome senioritis, and as I went through all the “remember-whens” with you.

So as you cross this stage, as you cross this threshold into the next chapter of your life, remember your parents, grandparents, guardians and spouses that watched you grow up and mature through college and never gave up on you — this day is for them, too. Remember your professors and mentors who pushed you to never be tied to the outcome, but to learn more about yourself from every success and failure. Most of all, remember that today is a day of celebration — not only for the great accomplishment of graduating from college but also to celebrate the memories of these past four years.

Four years. It seems all too long and all too short at the same time. But I hope that as each of you move on, you take pride in this pinnacle achievement and continue to reach greater heights. For we climb this mountain of life not to be seen by the world, but to go out and change the world. Therefore, I challenge you to make no excuses and to not take “no” for an answer. To learn from your mistakes and to embrace what others may say in unachievable. I will now leave you with the quote I began with: I take to the open road — healthy, free, the world before you, leading wherever you choose. Congratulations class of 2017 and, as always, WHOOSH!  

Priya Mathew graduated with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. She plans to attend UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas where she will pursue a dual MD/MPH degree and begin a career in medicine.