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Elaine Torres

Bachelor of Arts, Emerging Media and Communication

Hello fellow graduates, family and esteemed professors.

My name is Elaine Torres and I have had the pleasure of sitting next to some of you during my time here. I’d like to take this time to thank the wonderful UT Dallas faculty I have gotten to know well over the years, and share a very special message with you all that serves as a reminder of what is truly important as we move forward on our respective journeys. Actor Ralph Fiennes once shared his views on success, saying:

“The people I consider successful are so because of how they handle their responsibilities to other people, how they approach the future. They have a full sense of the value of their life and what they want to do with it.

“I call people successful not because they have money or their business is doing well but because, as human beings, they have a fully developed sense of being alive and engaged in a lifetime task of collaboration with other human beings — their mothers and fathers, their family, their friends, their loved ones, the friends who are dying, the friends who are being born.

“Success is all about being able to extend love to people… not in a big, capital-letter sense but in the everyday. Little by little, task by task, gesture by gesture, word by word.”

Engaged in a lifetime task of collaboration with other human beings, this is what all of my professors and many others here at UT Dallas do every day. For me, the people they are and the ways that they shared their knowledge with me and others in the ATEC/EMAC family are not only what make them successful, but what will make all of us succeed. Thank you for your kindness, your patience, your wisdom and your ever-open doors.

Stepping foot on the UT Dallas campus was difficult for me. I had recently graduated from Collin College with my associate’s degree. I was nervous for so many reasons, but inside these walls, everything made sense. I knew I was where I was supposed to be. So six months pregnant, I sat in class and learned that “the medium was the message,” and that “know your stuff” was the best advice that any person could ever give another.

In the year that followed, my spouse lost his job, and we lost our home, our cars and our friends. The adage "you find out who your real friends are when you have nothing" is true. We were homeless. Still, I persisted. I pushed through my fractured personal life, guided by some very special people here at UT Dallas. For the hours I was here learning, I was free of the economic constraints of my personal life. Education and the EMAC program were my escape. I learned valuable skills here that would change the course of my life.

I took those skills and began working from home as a digital marketing consultant. I started my own business in 2014. Using what I learned in my program and in my personal life helped me reach this podium today and it can help you too. My point to all of you here today is to never count yourself out. Life is going to throw some scary things at you. It’s going to be unfair, ugly and dirty at times; but we don’t have to be.

When you are at the bottom of that Bézier curve called life, there’s only one way to go. Rise up. Take what you have been given during your time here and use it to your advantage. Be not afraid to challenge the pain in the world. Shine your light wherever you go and drown out the darkness. Raise your head up high, knowing that you have accomplished something that was not easy. If it were easy everyone would do it.

"My point to all of you here today is to never count yourself out. Life is going to throw some scary things at you. It’s going to be unfair, ugly, and dirty at times, but WE don’t have to be."

Thank you to the mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers here today. We’re lucky to have you here to watch this promise fulfilled. And in my own corner of the world I am honored to be the first in our little family to finish college. Mom, Dad, and my sisters, you are magic.

To the spouses and children of graduates, thank you for your patience when
we were grumpy writing papers and presentations until the wee hours of the morning, for your support and help with the little ones when we had to leave to attend class and for letting us sleep wherever that may have been. The sofa, floor, kitchen table. We hope we make you proud and we love you.

Now, to my fellow graduates, going forward, let us be brave, be bold. But above all else, be kind. Dare to be successful. WE. ARE. COMETS. We are MEANT to SOAR!

Thank you for your time and congratulations to all of you!

Elaine Torres graduated with a bachelor's degree in emerging media and communication. She plans to continue her studies in user experience design with emphasis on product design and to run her digital marketing agency, Social Mind Media.