The University of Texas at Dallas’ graduated its largest class of graduates last May. The cohort included 2,393 bachelor’s students, 2,090 master’s students, and 107 doctoral candidates. Nearly 1,080 students graduated from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. This included approximately 630 computer science and software engineering students. The UT Dallas CS Department celebrated the accomplishments of its recent graduates by the biannual CS Graduation Celebration Luncheon, which brought in about 250 students who were accompanied by their family and friends. The luncheon featured Dave Copps, a successful tech industry entrepreneur who has built multiple successful companies based on artificial intelligence.
At the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science Ceremony, Esther Goldstein, a graduate of the Undergraduate Computer Science Program delivered the Spring 2018 commencement speech.Esther Goldstein is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Vice President of External Affairs for the Women Who Compute Student Organization, the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College and the Computing Scholars Honors Program. In addition to her classwork, she studied abroad at the University of Liverpool and spent the last two summers interning at Microsoft. After graduation, she plans to attend Stanford University, where she will pursue a graduate degree in computer science.
Below is Esther’s commencement speech.
I would like to welcome all of the family, friends, staff, and faculty that are here to support our graduates. Today is an incredibly exciting day, and we should take a moment to reflect on our journey. Some of us came straight from high school, some transferred here from community colleges and others have been here for more than four years. The bottom line is that we have all completed our degrees. No matter how long we have been at UTD, and what struggles we have gone through to earn our diplomas, we should be proud of ourselves. We’ve finally made it!
Four years ago, I moved here to attend college. I was just a girl from New Jersey with some family that lived in Texas. I didn’t know anyone at UTD, nor did I understand what computer science and engineering really involved. In some high schools, there is a push to teach students how to code, but many people come to college without an understanding of what it really means to think like a computer scientist or engineer. Well now we know, or at least our professors hope we do. Many of us were probably intimidated when we began to attend classes, and we had some misconceptions. At first, we thought, “Oh, I can definitely wake up for an 8:30 a.m. class because I did that all of the time in high school!” Boy, were we wrong.
As we leave the past few years behind and take the next steps in our exciting futures, it’s important to think about what we’ve learned in college, and not just in the classroom. Think about who helped you succeed along the way, and make sure you thank the people that have had an impact on who you are today. Without mentors and guidance throughout the years, most of us would not have made it. We cannot remember everything that we have been taught, but we must keep learning. As engineers and computer scientists, we have to be lifelong learners in order to keep pace with technology. Many of us will either go off to graduate school or start a career in industry. No matter what path we take, we should always strive to increase our knowledge base. Some people take on the role of an engineer because they want a nice salary. They’ll learn early on that there is much more to a career than the money involved. Enjoy what you work on, have an impact and be regularly challenged. These are critical aspects of living a fulfilled life. So next time you think you can only be happy working for companies like Facebook, Google and the like, think again.
Whenever I’ve told someone from home where I went to school, I always had to say The University of Texas at Dallas, since many people outside of North Texas don’t know our college as UTD. Nevertheless, I realized not long after I started here that name recognition isn’t as crucial as some people believe. Our school is continually growing in prestige and consistently attracts top students from around the world. UTD provides us with amazing opportunities, and many of us have taken advantage of them. The University has personally given me incredible experiences that I don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else, and for that, I am very grateful.
In terms of our future, our success depends not on what company we work for or where we live, but on how we choose to fill our lives with meaningful moments. We must not forget the little things that have shaped who we are today. In my case, I did badly on a discrete math quiz during my first semester here, and I thought maybe I wasn’t cut out for computer science. But with the help of the Discrete Math Mentor Center, now called the Computer Science Mentor Center, I was able to grasp concepts that had previously eluded me. There will be many times during our careers in which we have to work assiduously to make a system operational, and we may question our capabilities as engineers. Nonetheless, we will strive to succeed because that is what people from UTD do.
I hope that when people ask you where you attended college, you will say UT Dallas with pride. Congratulations on getting this far in our academic lives, and I wish us all the best of luck in our future endeavors. Let’s make sure to thank our professors, families, friends, and others for making a positive impact on our college careers. Today is my 22nd birthday, and I’m glad I can celebrate it here with all of you. Thank you!
Click here to view UT Dallas’ Glimpse Of Graduation Spring 2018 featuring each graduation speaker’s speech, President Benson’s commencement speech, and personal photos taken by graduating students themselves.
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 2,400 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,000 master’s students, 150 Ph.D. students, 53 tenure-track faculty members and 38 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2017. 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.