Brian Hoang is graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. He received the Academic Excellence Scholarship with Honors, served as an officer in the Association for Computing Machinery and founded the Artificial Intelligence Society and Virtual Reality Society. Additionally, Brian is the first graduate of the newly started CS Software Startup Launch Track. He later co-founded a virtual reality agency called Immosis that has served clients across multiple industries. Most recently, he led the company’s shift to a law enforcement training product called SURVIVR. SURVIVR won first place at UTD’s Big Idea Competition out of 264 startups, and is now working with 10 police departments across North Texas. During this time, he was on the dean’s list several times, became a guest lecturer for the Naveen Jindal School of Management and was awarded the Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholarship for his entrepreneurial accomplishments. After graduation, he plans to stay with his company full time to continue its mission of improving public safety across the world.
Below is his Spring 2019 Commencement Ceremony Speech.
Good morning, and a huge welcome to our friends, families, faculty, staff and soon-to-be graduates.
We did it. Today I stand here with an attitude of gratitude, because it is a tremendous honor to share this life-changing experience with you all. No matter the backgrounds we come from or the challenges we have faced, we are all here today because of our firm commitment to our education. We should all be immensely proud of ourselves for what we have accomplished over the last several years.
We should also reflect on those experiences and use them to guide us for the many years that follow. It starts by asking yourself, “What excites me?”
When I arrived at UT Dallas four years ago, my one aspiration was to leave a lasting impact. I tried everything possible, from corporate internships to academic research. Eventually, I discovered my love for startups through founding two student organizations and a technology company.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride, to put it lightly. One day might be super-exhilarating, while the next day could be pretty depressing. Sometimes that happens all within one day. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Because while startups have pushed me to astronomical limits that I didn’t even know existed, I believe that one’s potential is reciprocal to their ability to handle stress. Besides, there’s something profoundly captivating about creating your own impact for the world.
So, entrepreneurship is what gets me out of bed every morning. And I encourage us all to figure out our joys and obsessions. However, I won’t stand here and claim that startups are the one glorious path to success in life. Society may define success a certain way, but at the end of the day, what really matters is how you define success. More specifically, how do you envision long-term happiness for yourself?
One of the aspects about UTD that I am so incredibly grateful for is the vast number of opportunities available for us to explore. Courses, research, internships, organizations, events, you name it. UTD has been an epic sandbox of discoveries, and we should all reflect on our student explorations. What excited you, and why? What did you not enjoy as much? Would you change anything if you could go back in time?
Once we develop a deep understanding of ourselves, it becomes time to face the world with our purposes. As engineers and computer scientists, we are fortunate to have boundless opportunities to make an impact, whether in large corporations, small startups or elsewhere. Regardless of our exact directions in life, nothing can stop us now.
But again, I challenge us all to look at the big picture and honestly define what success for each of us really means. If you want to save a million lives, fantastic! That is an amazing goal worth pursuing. However, it is also acceptable if you save just one person. And I want you all to know that it is completely OK if that one person is yourself.
I also encourage us to remember that we are never alone in our journeys. No matter the circumstances, there is always someone out there who cheers for each of us through our highs and lows. We wouldn’t be who and where we are today without them.
First, our amazing mentors who elevate us to new heights. I’d like to personally thank UTD’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Department of Computer Science for uplifting me throughout my entrepreneurial journey. Secondly, let’s not forget about our peers. For that, I’d like to thank all of my teams and business partners over the years. An organization is only as strong as the individuals behind it, and I have been privileged to run alongside some of the best. And of course, we owe the world to our caring families, however you define that. My biggest thanks goes to my family for giving me a place to call home, no matter what happens.
We have all accomplished a magnificent feat during our time at UTD and earned our spots in this room today. But don’t let your exuberance and achievements end here! Continue to be curious and explore. Make connections. Question the standards. Find your purpose. Take action toward the change that you want to see in the world and your own life.
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 and our peers from The University of Texas at Dallas. 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.
UT Dallas Class of 2019, congratulations! I am so excited to see what the future holds for all of us. Thank you.
ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 2,800 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,000 master’s students, 190 Ph.D. students, 52 tenure-track faculty members, and 41 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2018. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.