Comet Wisdom for the Class of 2020: 20 Quotes from 20 Alumni



For the newest graduates of The University of Texas at Dallas, a year of a bit less pomp and more unforeseen circumstances can easily overshadow one of the most important milestones in their lives.

But the Class of 2020 does not have to go far to find shared experiences, comfort and encouragement in the words of fellow Comets. Though they may not have been speaking directly to this year’s class, these 20 student speakers from past commencements shared wisdom that still rings true today.

The Journey

“Life is funny. It’s full of twists and turns, and it can be as perplexing or as amusing as the hallways of Green. But in the end I have full faith that UTD has equipped us with the education and the skills that we will need in life to help us find our way.” — Iris Kwong BS’07

Elaine Torres BA’17

“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.” — Elaine Torres BA’17

“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.” — Wenet Wu MBA’17, MS’17

Archie D. Nettles Jr. BS’11, MPA’18, now an assistant director of development at UT Dallas

“No matter how many years it took to get here — whether you were the turtle or the rabbit — we all made it past the finish line. There may have been times when we wanted to quit along the way, but an advisor, professor, friend or family member encouraged us to persevere and press on.” — Archie D. Nettles Jr. BS’11, MPA’18

Greatness in Gratitude

“I am thankful for my struggle, for without it I would not have stumbled upon my strength.” — Donna Noorbakhsh BS’14

Andrew Cyders MBA’11

“For one moment, forget about the past and what you could have done differently. Graduates, for this moment, recognize yourselves. You deserve it.” — Andrew Cyders MBA’11

Rachel Hodges MBA’13

“Be grateful for your accomplishments; be grateful for one another. Take that gratitude with you to all the new faces you’ll meet and on every goal you reach in life, because there are many ahead.” — Rachel Hodges MBA’13

“We all came to UT Dallas knowing very little of what we would become or what we would accomplish, but we are leaving knowing who we are, and that is a gift to be treasured.” — Ankit R. Takallapaly MS’15

Lessons Learned

Khadeeja Miandara BA’17

“We do not measure our legacy from awards or accolades gained. Instead, we put pen to paper and add our notes to the great American symphony. Instead, we plant seeds of growth where others would plant seeds of hate. Instead, we seek to make progress on a final product we may never see. Generations to come will benefit from our efforts.” — Khadeeja Miandara BA’17

“Always remember that your life is full of difficult choices, and that nothing will bother you more than what you are too scared to do.” — Molly McGregor BS’12

Daniel Gonzalez BS’16

“Regardless if today marks the end of your higher education or simply another beginning, we must never forget the following: Those who tend to get the most success, tend to give the most. We raise our own influence by lifting others up. And we lead others by giving them something to follow.” — Daniel Gonzalez BS’16

“And if there’s one thing these past few years have taught us, it’s that things don’t always go as planned. … But today we sit as people who learned to make our own paths, who learned to fly rather than to walk.” — Zehra Rizvi BS’19

Being a Comet

Megan Simons BA’14

“Take pride in who you are, and be confident of your success, because we are UTD. We are Comets: one in a million, exceptionally bright and glorious to behold.” — Megan Simons BA’14

“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.” — Pranav Thanki BS’19

Flying Toward the Future

“We are leaving the safety of this nest and being nudged out by these adult birds into the real world to fly on our own. I am sure as we fly forward, we will meet more people who tell us, ‘It is just not possible for you.’ When you hear those words or ones like them remember the greatness that is inside of you, that is inside of every single one of us. Own it. And move forward holding that greatness in front of you. After all, what flies higher than a Comet?” — Mimi Newman BA’18

“While considering how much you’ve changed these past four years, think about how much you can change others in the future.” — Conrad Capili BS’08

Megan Badejo BS’18

“You are persistent and supported. So, why not pursue your dreams? You made it this far. Why not keep going? Why not give everything you’ve got, regardless of the obstacles before you? It may be hard, but living a life without passion or purpose is a grotesque equation for misery and despair.” — Megan Badejo BS’18

Brian Hoang BS’19

“For us, this is just the beginning. Remember that it is never too early or too late to make a change. If anyone can do it, it is us. … Just make sure that you will always love your work, and, most importantly, yourself and others. Because above all else, life is precious, and we should cherish every second of it.” — Brian Hoang BS’19

“Be willing to learn. Step out of your comfort zone. Do what people say cannot be done.” — Sristi Gaur MS’17

Bassam Smadi BS’19

“Stay ambitious. Stay persistent. And lastly, stay a Comet.” — Bassam Smadi BS’19

–Marc Johnson

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