Urgent Message COVID-19 Updates »

Coronavirus Updates

For the most up-to-date news, please see the University’s official COVID‑19 information webpage.

Bassam Smadi

Portrait of Bassam Smadi

Thank you. To President Benson, the Board of Regents, faculty and staff who through their efforts and teachings guided us to be here today, thank you. With further consideration to our friends and family who stood by us on this long journey through past, present and future, please join me in giving them all a round of applause.

Growing up, my dad told me that the sky’s the limit. This was extremely empowering to a young boy. But when I got to UTD, I found out I still wasn’t thinking big enough! It was here that I learned I had to reach for something higher. It was a big change. UTD was a new place to call home, a new place to explore opportunities and a new place to ignite our dreams. This home was temporary and especially ever-changing, but we did everything to make it ours. We conquered our biggest fears and fought our hardest battles.

That is why we are here today, the Class of 2019, getting ready to start our new journey and discover our purpose in this boundless world. It is time to launch and aim for the stars; we have been prepared for this journey, and now it is our time to shine.

This year marks UTD’s 50th anniversary. It is crazy to imagine that this University started with one building and three brilliant minds. UT Dallas is vastly different from its inception, and within the next 50 years we may not even recognize this institution.

“After today, we all will go our separate ways. Some will go on to professional school, others will go straight into the workforce. No matter where this path takes you, remember to stay true to yourself and the roots that got you there.”

Just like our school, we will continue to change and become a better version of ourselves. We will continue to achieve our dreams and leave our impact on this world. If you ever find yourself lost, look back on this point and realize you have achieved so much. Remember what you have done to reach this point, and how you will continue to fight this battle and grow with each step taken.

After today, we all will go our separate ways. Some will go on to professional school, others will go straight into the workforce. No matter where this path takes you, remember to stay true to yourself and the roots that got you there.

My journey has just begun, and I will continue to follow my dreams of becoming an astronaut physician. This may seem like a long shot, but UT Dallas has taught me to never give up on my dreams. In addition, I would like to give a shoutout to my mom and dad. My mom, who holds a PhD in biomedical engineering, always asks me, “Are you a doctor yet?” Well, Mom, I’m on it! My dad, who holds an MBA and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering, taught me to never settle for less. They are the reason why I stand before you today. So, thank you both for always supporting me with unconditional love. I love you both so much.

As part of UTD’s new brand campaign, we’ve adopted a new tagline: “At the speed of bright.” Now, even as an engineer, I still have no idea what that means, but it must be pretty fast. However, there is a reason why they use the word bright. Bright accurately describes the student body at UT Dallas, especially the faces I see today.

Being proud is an understatement: To see this space filled with so many brilliant minds, ready to take flight, gives us hope. We are the future of this world, and as engineers, it is up to us to help shape society and create a world that we hope to leave for our children.

I urge my peers to rethink how we define success. I believe that success should not be what we can take from life, but rather what we can give back. The world is notorious for being a brutal place. However, we, as Comets, can initiate change and be one small step that leads to a leap in mankind.

Education is like the flight preparations for a launch. We have been prepared to launch, and we continue to grow through the diverse education that UT Dallas has provided us with. We must now use our knowledge to ascend into space and capture each memory along the way.

Stay ambitious. Stay persistent. And lastly, stay a Comet.

Flight systems check. Comets, you are cleared for takeoff.


Bassam M. Smadi, a graduate of John H. Guyer High School in Denton, Texas, is graduating summa cum laude with a degree in biomedical engineering. His campus involvement includes Doctors Without Borders, Biomedical Engineering Society, Engineering World Health, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and vice president of the Biomedical Engineering Honor Society. He has been on the Dean’s List several times and is a member of the Tau Beta Pi honor society. He was a member of the UT Dallas gymnastics team and worked as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Stuart Cogan’s research group, where he earned research awards and attended two conferences. As a UTDesign engineer, he and his team designed and fabricated a new ventilation mask that resulted in a patent. After graduation, he plans to pursue his medical degree and a master’s in aerospace engineering.