Today I feel an immense joy as I reflect on years of memories and look longingly toward the potential of the future. Today we accomplish something that is only once in a lifetime, and I cannot wait to celebrate it.
Welcome everyone, to our commencement ceremony. My name is Jean-Pierre Salazar Lubo, and I am eternally grateful to have been given this opportunity to speak to you.
My family and I moved to Florida from Barranquilla, Colombia, 19 years ago. My father, John Salazar, was a successful businessman. My mother, Elsa Lubo, was a wife who had dedicated her life to raising her four sons. Unfortunately, early in our great American experiment, my father passed away. This left my 32-year-old mother, who had never held a job before, with the task of raising four young children alone in a new country.
Nine years ago, we moved to Texas. We stayed in a motel room as we waited to move into our new apartment. One night, while my family slept, I stayed up late reading my AP Human Geography textbook by a lamp on the desk. As I looked around a dark room in a new city, I promised myself I would work for a better future for myself and for my family. That was the night a younger version of myself made a college education his life’s goal.
Like most things in life, my college experience did not go as planned. Navigating college admissions as a “Dreamer” was one of the most difficult moments in my life. Of thousands of graduating, undocumented high school students, only 5 percent to 10 percent continue to seek collegiate-level education. Of those few, many do not finish their undergraduate degrees due to lack of guidance and aid. I was blessed to receive my permanent residency in the middle of my college experience.
My journey to this stage, like most, was not an easy one. I’ve come to understand the most rewarding things in life are not easy. Today, I am proof that every human deserves an equal opportunity for education. What matters now is that today, after five years of fighting for my collegiate education, I am about to receive the diploma that makes that 14-year-old boy’s dream come true.
I hope you all take time to reflect on how far you have come.
I would now like to address some of the people in this room.
First, I would like to give credit to The University of Texas at Dallas, the entity by which we are all united today. Dean Balsara, department leaders, associate deans, professors, counselors, faculty, and staff — thank you. As a transfer student, UTD rewarded me with the opportunity of continuing my education. Without all of you maintaining this school and its exceptional practices, I would not have grown into the person that I am today. The faculty here has broadened my knowledge in subjects ranging from computer architecture to virtual reality to the philosophy of logic. I now know what I want to further study and dedicate my life to.
“We have no reason to fear the world we are about to enter; we are the ones who will come to change and define it. Let’s engineer a better world for ourselves and for those who will follow us.”
Now, to all of the family and loved ones here with us and to those who could not attend: I know that my fellow graduates and I want to thank you because this would not have been possible without you. This was not possible without the leaders who ingrained the value of education into our minds. This was not possible without the friends who listened to us when we were hurting or stressed out.
To my mom: You worked so hard to give me this opportunity. Working so many jobs without rest, giving up all your time to support us, loving us without limits. I cannot fathom a way to repay you for your selfless sacrifice. I owe you my life and all of my success.
There are also those who have passed and can only be with us in spirit and in memory. My father, my grandparents, my cousin — I can feel generations of tradition, heritage and pride surround me today. It’s a comforting feeling to know how proud those we have lost would have been of this step in our lives.
Lastly, to all of the graduates. To all of my friends, colleagues, and co-workers, awaiting their opportunity to come onstage and receive their diplomas: We have done something worth honoring. We’ve worked credibly and tirelessly. Some of us had to complete schoolwork after a long eight-hour work shift. Some of us had the responsibility of supporting our families or children. Some of us had lapses in our mental and physical health. Some of us did this in four years and some in the span of 10 years.
For certain accomplishments in life there is no such thing as too late or too hard. We all walk our own path, and we are always on time to our destinations. What matters today, after all that work, is that we made it to this hall, onto these steps, and get to hold our diplomas in our hands. No tenemos razon para tener miedo del mundo al que ingresamos, nosotros somos quienes vamos a cambiarlo y definirlo. We have no reason to fear the world we are about to enter; we are the ones who will come to change and define it. Let’s engineer a better world for ourselves and for those who will follow us.
I wish y’all the best of luck in your profession, health, continued education, and all other aspects of life. Congratulations, UT Dallas graduates of fall 2018.
After earning an associate’s degree from Collin College, Jean-Pierre Salazar Lubocame to UT Dallas, where he was awarded a Comet Transfer Scholarship and a Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship. Through UT Dallas, he obtained a co-op position as a network analyst at Nokia Corp. For his senior design project, he worked with an IT solutions company to develop software for a medical 3D imaging system. After an extended travel period through East Asia and South America, he plans to work in user-interface and general application development.
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.