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Pranav Thanki

Bachelor of Science, Information Technology and Systems

President Benson, Dean Pirkul, faculty, friends, my fellow graduates, and everyone else who was forced to be here, welcome and thank you for attending!

Every time we entered a new school, we were introduced to a new mascot. In elementary school, I was a Stingray. In middle school, I defied the laws of anthropology and transformed into a Bear. In high school, I defied the laws of time and became a Spartan. Every mascot became less of a symbol of excellence of its institution and more of a … meme. The University of Texas at Dallas, however, was a completely different story.

Maybe you were a first-generation high school graduate, maybe someone called you a failure and told you that you won’t make it through college. Whatever the case, we struggled, we defied preset expectations and we soared. At UT Dallas, we defied the laws of gravity, and we became Comets.

Often in Hollywood movies, characters lay on the grass and stare into the night sky in hopes of seeing comets fly by. Standing here in front of you all, I am humbled to say that I am looking at a thousand Comets. But what exactly is a comet? According to NASA, a comet is a collection of cosmic snowballs of frozen gases and rocks that fly around the solar system. My definition is a little different.

“Let us all come together in celebration of putting down our books and picking up our pens to write our future stories.”

A Comet is an individual who is resilient, a person who will make sacrifices for their loved ones or colleagues, and someone who will disrupt the status quo through sheer determination and brilliance. Comets are people who never get comfortable; they always question the norm and provide creative alternatives to complex problems. Comets are people who create miracles in the lives of others through emotional support. In other words, parents, teachers and students are all Comets. Our achievements must be credited to the guidance of our professors, the unwavering support of our families near and far, and our efforts as students.

Let us all come together in celebration of putting down our books and picking up our pens to write our future stories. But to write our future stories, we need to look back at where we came from. Before entering college, my goal in life was simply “to be successful.” I always equated success with a large paycheck. Throughout these four years, I have realized my perception was misplaced.

How hard is it to be successful? Your friend is suffering and grieving from a personal loss, and you comfort them. They feel at ease and realize that everything will be OK. All they needed was someone to comfort them.

How hard is it to be successful? You stand up for another colleague at work. You did not know it, but they had started to think that they were not cut out to work and would have quit. Your actions gave them the confidence and determination to continue working.

How hard is it to be successful? You volunteer in the community by rebuilding homes for victims of natural disasters. You inspire members of the affected families to volunteer and do the same for others.

Success should not be just about money. Success is the positive feeling you get by your actions that influence your life and lives of those around you. Your efforts may go unnoticed, but the reward lies in the satisfaction of impacting someone’s life for the better.  So how hard is it to be successful? It is just as hard as you make it. 

Our years at college did not just make us competitive hires at companies, excellent professionals and hard workers. These years prepared us for the rewards and challenges of life. So, when things get hard, don’t give up. That is the easy thing to do. Instead, keep yourself together when everyone else expects you to fail. That is what makes a Comet. There is no formula to success. So defy, defy and fly!

I suppose I do agree with NASA’s definition to some extent. After all, we are out of this world, and we will soar through the sky. Thank you so much for this opportunity, and congratulations to the Class of 2019!


Pranav Thanki, from Houston, Texas, is graduating with a degree in information technology and systems and a minor in finance. He was born in India, raised in Australia for six years, and has spent the rest of his life in America. He joined UT Dallas in 2015 and has taken part in organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, DECA and the Naveen Jindal School of Management’s Career Management Center as an ambassador. After graduation, he will join Fidelity Investments in Dallas as a systems analyst. 

 

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