UT Dallas

Glimpse of Graduation, Spring 2019

Photo of Emily Stinnett
View More Tevin Edney Bonnie Helm
Brian Hoang
Aminah I. Khan
Ashton Rel
Zehra Rizvi
Emily Stinnett
Pranav Thanki
Weston Tuttle
Christian Vieira

Emily Stinnett

Bachelor of Science, International Political Economy

My mom has a saying that people remind her of ants in a colony. She admires the way ants go up to each other; touch their antennae together, for the purpose of chatting, to catch up. When ants meet in the outside world, they share information over a brief break before going back on their own, determined way. I love this analogy. To me, The University of Texas at Dallas is a community, a colony of ants, where we are all connected, but then go on our own determined way. I believe that you are always affecting the people around you, perhaps subtly or obviously, but usually in ways that no one can comprehend.

In processing what graduation means to me, I have written a sort of love letter to UTD.
It goes like this…

I love you UTD, because you are a supportive colony to your ants, or students, who grow up here. The sum of our entire varied individual ant interests compounds to an immensely more valuable anthill whole. I have been allowed to live here, with people I have come to know and trust. More than once I have been overly absorbed in my own life, only to run into a friend on campus who pulls me back to the realities of our small colony, someone who wants to be genuinely present with me. This UT Dallas-specific phenomenon is cool and unique, and manifests into countless, deeply rooted, friendships.

“To my fellow soon-to-be graduates: Do not doubt yourself now. You have been invested in this long journey because you are worth investing in. […] Continue to rely on yourselves and your networks to bring us all up, because a rising tide raises all ships.”

I love you UTD, because you have given me experiences with the most eclectic array of ideas and people. I have learned to not lose sight of what the bigger picture is. And through learning from the ants around me, it is becoming easier to view graduation as a transition, rather than the beginning or end it usually gets mislabeled as. I appreciate that with the ebb and flow of life, insect and otherwise, my personal leaving is making room. Our departure as a graduating class makes room in the library basement, in the yoga classes, and at the monarch waystations. Our transitions out allow for the creation of a new breath in another class of students who will continue to add to the vivacious life here.

I love you UTD, because despite the personal pain I have experienced; I am here. Despite the difficulties and impossibilities we have faced, we are all here. We could not justly appreciate this achievement in graduation without nodding to the trials and tests that we have faced in our own unique ways, whether they be those that come with being a student, such as overlapping due dates and the woes of parking, or the troubles that come with being a human in this dynamic and confusing world of ours. We can’t control disease or natural disasters, among other tragedies, and I want to acknowledge the various struggles of all the graduates. Regardless, the way that I see it, our ant paths are just sweetly overlapping with each other.

I have shared parts of my love letter and the UTD-centered aspects of my life for the past eight semesters in the hope that through this, I can healthily relate and grow for the rest of the life I am allotted. I am not sure who I am or who I will be, although apparently, I will not be calling myself a student for the sake of discounts anymore.

To my fellow soon-to-be graduates: do not doubt yourself now. You have been invested in this long journey because you are worth investing in. Share all that you are and share the truths you have worked to know. Understand that not every person is afforded the opportunity to attend college, especially one that offers so many instances to better yourself, and of course the plethora of free food. You are resilient. Although you are not perfect, you are dynamic. You are whole, and you are capable. Continue to rely on yourselves and your networks to bring us all up because a rising tide raises all ships.

A quote I admire about perspective and attitude is, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Nostalgia has a cruel way of blinding us to present joys. It is important to focus on the now, at least for the successful and blessed people that we are in this celebration today. Only then can we continue to grow, and positively impact those around us.

Let us use this moment to make a commitment; the commitment to be kind, be truthful and be searching. Let’s not settle for money. Let’s not settle for average, and let’s certainly not settle for good enough. We did not work as hard and sacrifice as much as we did to settle for anything.

We, of course, wouldn’t be the people we are today without the innumerable impacts from the ants around us, within UTD’s nurturing anthill.

I am so grateful for our anthill! Thank you to all of the clubs, groups and friends with which I have had meaningful and cherished time; you make my love of UTD tangible. I am also incredibly overwhelmed with gratitude to the employees of UTD who make the space that we have inhabited clean, accessible, safe and heated. Thank you to the staff of the countless student offices that endlessly work to make students successful, heard, supported and connected to resources, as well as the staff who have taken time to invest in our growth. Thank you, students, for the culture, and praise be to Enarc!

Thank you for your time.
Take care and Whoosh!

Emily Stinnett, from Pearland, Texas, is graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in international political economy and a minor in performing arts. At UTD, she worked as an intern at the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C., through the Bill Archer Fellowship Program and took classes in Oaxaca, Mexico, through the Center for U.S. Latin American Initiatives. She has been an active volunteer with several organizations including The Innocence Project of Texas, the International Rescue Committee, the UT Dallas Office of Student Volunteerism and the Freshman Mentor Program. She also worked at the UT Dallas Office of Sustainability where she started the Eco-Rep Program to connect students and staff and achieve campus sustainability goals. After graduation, she plans to continue her education in immigration law.