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CS Student, David M. Brooks, Speaks at the Jonsson School’s 2021 Commencement Ceremony

We did it. We arrived. Code compiled successfully… after I suppressed compiler warnings, but hey, it runs right?

We all didn’t start off the same. Many of us come from different high schools, different countries, different majors, or are of different ages. Some of us knew from early on our major is what we wanted to do. For others, this is the last thing we expected to happen.

But we’re all here now, at the same starting line. Yeah, I thought it was finished after that last sprint there, but it’s apparently just the beginning. We worked hard to get to this point, but I know right now many of us aren’t thinking about that. Instead, the long road ahead of us. Hopefully, after our time here, it’s pretty clear that we don’t know where that road is going to take us or what’s going to happen along the way, and that life isn’t linear: high school, college, job, retirement in Florida.

You may move back to your hometown and stay there a while, or maybe you’ll move around to the point that you’ve touched every continent. I grew up in California. I never expected to end up in Texas. And now I’m not sure where to go next. You may work a job, start your own company, or transition completely out of this field.

Like some of those old computer games, this is a pick your own adventure. You make the decisions, you grab life by the reins, and you guide yourself whichever way you want to go, through all the mountains and valleys along the way.

There is a lot standing before us, and some of us may not feel grown-up enough or ready, but understand that all the “real grown-ups” here started in the same spot.

They were all just as unsure as us. They made decisions, sometimes bad ones, but they made the best of them. The skill they gained ― that we will build ― is that they trusted themselves to make it through if things went wrong.

To quote Alfred from Batman: “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.” Trust in yourself. And don’t worry. ENARC will be there to help raise you up.

I don’t know what comes next, but that’s what makes it exciting. Movies with a predictable twist aren’t fun. We’re smart though; we’re engineers; we’re Comets. We can handle a challenge.

And right now, we completed at least one challenge, and today we’re celebrating it. Remember that, because, for many people who feel like imposters and feel they don’t belong, we all completed this. We’re all facing the journey ahead, and we’re all here, together, as peers, and Comets. Whoosh!

David Brooks graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He joined UT Dallas in August 2018 and received an Academic Excellence Scholarship. He was involved in HackUTD as an experience coordinator, the drawing sessions as a treasurer and made the Dean’s List. He interned all three of his undergraduate summers at TaxAct, State Farm, and most recently JPMorgan Chase & Co. He plans to continue his education at UTD by pursuing a master’s degree in computer science with a focus on intelligent systems.


The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 3,315 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,110 master’s students, 165 Ph.D. students,  52 tenure-track faculty members, and 44 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2019. 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.

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