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Megan Badejo

Bachelor of Science, Healthcare Studies

I am incredibly excited to stand before you all today. To begin, congratulations on making it here! We conquered the journey and made it to this incredible moment. If anyone of you are like me, there were definitely a few moments where things seemed a little touch and go, and yet here we are. So now, I would like to take a moment to thank all the people who supported us along the way.

Thank you to all the family, friends, professors, advisors, coaches, mentors, deans, President Richard Benson and everyone else who was integral in getting us here. Your support was not only unparalleled but for many of us, it was essential. 

Isn’t it weird to think about how we get from one stage of life to another? So many little factors had to add up for us to get to this exact moment in time. Then it really gets me thinking, “How did I get here?” I mean, my life began a bit unorthodox. After immigrating to America, my mom raised four kids by herself, while broke with minimal resources. Luckily for my brothers and me, my mom knows how to make it shake. And by shake, I mean making it work no matter what.

Like some of my classmates here today, my mom worked three jobs to put herself through school. My mom continued like that well into my high school and college experience, but she still found time to be the supportive mom in the stands at my games, meets, band performances and everything in between. 

But, do you guys want to know something funny? My mom was that foreign parent, that African mom at the UT Dallas women’s basketball games who didn’t know anything about sports. So there she was, jumping around in the stands at my basketball games talking about touchdowns. “My daughter made a touchdown, my daughter made a touchdown.” Me to myself: “Mom, nobody made a touchdown.”

But, again, like everyone who worked hard to be in their cap and gown today, that woman knows how to make it shake. Thrive in this life, live for a purpose and pursue her passions. That’s my mom.

“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.”

Now we’re Nigerian, and if you guys don’t know, when you’re Naija, your career path is: A) lawyer; B) engineer; or C) doctor. Luckily, UT Dallas supports all of those paths and many others. However, my mom does what she wants, so she added option D) and told me to become the president. To which I replied, “President of what? President of the United States!”

But in all seriousness, my mother has always been my rock, and whenever I told my mom I wanted to do something, her only condition was that I do it well.

So, I came here to UT Dallas and like all of you, I dedicated the next chapter of my life to being a Comet. Over our time here, we accomplished many things and we saw so many changes. I mean honestly, our school looks completely different from our freshman year. But we have also changed. Our school started to develop a culture that I believe everyone in this room is proud of because we contributed to it.

I remember when I first heard about UT Dallas, our University was solely known for our phenomenal chess team, but now we’ve become a superpower in all our sports, collecting 14 conference championships since we started here. We developed meaningful school spirit, and proudly hold up our Whooshes. But most importantly, we grew hearts that yearned to serve, whenever we were called.

For example, in the face of the great tragedy that Hurricane Harvey presented, I saw Comets come together to provide whatever they could to support those affected. Over a three-day period, we collected five truckloads of goods and raised $5,000 in funds in hopes of lending a hand to those who needed it. It was an incredible moment where I didn’t see a bunch of teams or clubs, but simply one group of Comets.

Looking back, I’m sure a lot of us were a little sketched out by our mascot. But if we think about it, maybe not his mascot outfit, but us, as Comets, we’re actually quite exquisite.

A comet is a celestial entity that navigates through a space it does not entirely understand but burns fully nonetheless. That’s us, that’s what we’ve grown into. We aim to burn passionately with the will to forge on beyond any obstacle seen or unseen. We all have fears and concerns for the future. We don’t want to disappoint, and we don’t want to fail. But fellow graduates, I promise you, if I’ve learned anything with my time as a Comet, it’s that: (1) Failure is not only inescapable but necessary and (2) You must live in the present, as the present will quickly become the past.

On the rare occasions my teammates and I lost a game, my coach would come into the locker room, pull out a marker, write L-O-S-S on the board and then walk out. When she first did this, I thought she was being sadistic, but the letters stood for something. Learning. Opportunity. Stay. Strong. It takes strength, courage and heart to push past the losses. But once we did, we gained so much more in understanding. We realized our weaknesses and worked on ourselves. And when we played again, we were better than where we started. So, when the critical time came, we were able to claim the East Division championship title. Life is a process, and we need to learn from our shortcomings when they occur. But until then, continue passionately toward your dreams and embrace every moment of it. We’re Comets, we’re built for this, and we’re well-equipped to conquer anything.

I have full faith in this because you made it here, to this day, and you’ve survived. That is not an easy accomplishment. I see the people around you, and I see them beaming with joy and pride. 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. A friend posed that question to me four years ago, and it has stuck with me since. So, I’d like to leave you all with this:

Why not? Why not me, why not you, why not us? Class of 2018, let’s work hard, burn passionately, fail from time to time and change the world. Congratulations, this chapter is complete. 


Megan Badejo served as vice president of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students and was a research intern at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. She also was a member of the women's basketball team, and served first as vice president and then president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. After graduation, she plans to continue her education at the Texas A&M College of Medicine.

 

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