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Wenet Wu

Master of Business Administration and Master of Science, Supply Chain Management

Before we start, I would like to thank President Benson, Provost Musselman, Dean Underwood and Dean Pirkul for the opportunity to speak at our commencement ceremony. It is truly an honor.
Most of life happens in the “in between” — between the memories, joys and challenges of the past, and the unfulfilled desires of our future. Today, we sit at a memorable speckle in time. As we grind through the sometimes uncomfortable and exciting space between our past and envisioned future, I would like to share a few things I hope we can remember as we walk through the small steps that make up the majority of our journey in life.

In honor of us being 2017 graduates, I thought about sharing 17 takeaways, but that would take way too long. So I will stick with seven.

Number one: Who we are now is because of who we were then. Celebrate the valleys we walked through and the challenges we have overcome to shape our tenacity today. Some of us may have traveled from the other side of the globe stepping into an unknown environment for the first time. Others of us may have grown up here and decided it is the place to continue to build our lives. No matter how life's circumstances have influenced us, every single moment did not go to waste. It made you exactly who you are today — the strong, confident and wise you.

"We inspire others not because we are the best, but because we take action in shaping our future, and we are mindful in reaching out a hand to similarly ambitious leaders."

Second, wake up every morning and tell yourself at least one thing you are thankful for. Remember that being alive is even reason to be thankful. Personally, I am the ultimate night owl and waking up in the morning is a bit of a chore, to say the least. However, we must remind ourselves what a privilege it is to face a new day and make it the very best day yet.

Next, handle every challenge with grace. We have all experienced challenges. Perhaps you have encountered a tough course, an unpleasant coworker or difficulties in relationships. Each of these challenges have their varying degrees of emotional impact. But we must remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Work through these challenges gracefully, and do not go through it alone. Someday, things will get better as you learn to handle it with strength, and you will become a more resilient person after persevering through the storms.

Also, give others the benefit of the doubt. Life is too short to over analyze others’ intentions. At the end of the day, we end up hurting ourselves more when we dwell on the hurtful words and actions of others. We don’t know the kind of life that person had to overcome or the day that person experienced. When we give others the benefit of the doubt, we can truly say “Que sera, sera … whatever will be, will be.”

In addition to that, practice living a beautiful life. What are beautiful things in this world? Love is beautiful. Kindness is beautiful. Selflessness is beautiful. Nobody would contest these characteristics. You may not change the whole world, but you can change one person’s world next to you if you live a beautiful life.

Number six: On the cusp of our future, we will not let anyone define who we will become. In a world where significance is defined by one’s intellect, appearance, achievements, potential or ability to succeed, maintain the perspective that significance does not come from any of these sources. Be who you know you need to be and do what you need to do to get there. You know yourself better than anyone else, so remember to quiet yourself and listen to the still, small voice of your conscience from time to time.

Finally, the last takeaway — never stop being a leader. As leaders, we take charge of the direction in our own lives and we help others achieve their goals, too. Remember to lead with humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. We inspire others not because we are the best, but because we take action in shaping our future, and we are mindful in reaching out a hand to similarly ambitious leaders.

As we close this chapter in our lives, let us remember how grateful we are for the opportunity to be a graduate of The University of Texas at Dallas. Not everybody has a roof over their head and food to eat. Not everybody has access to receive an education. Not everybody gets to experience life in the land of the free. And not everybody gets to graduate with a master’s degree from an outstanding university.

Let us give a round of applause to those who played a role in shaping our educational journey up to this date. We are so thankful to our stellar faculty and staff who provided an educational infrastructure for us that we do not take for granted. We truly appreciate our lifelong friendships we have gained in our classmates who stayed up with us through the long nights of studying. And last but not least, we love our beloved families who supported us and walked by us every step of the way.

Every person in this room is a leader. So go and lead your life with confidence, grace and love. Congratulations, graduates of 2017!

Wenet Wu graduated with a dual degree from the full-time MBA and MS in Supply Chain Management programs. After graduation, she will continue to work at Johnson Controls.