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Aniket Patil

Master of Science, Mechanical Engineering

President Benson, Dean Balsara, faculty, friends and my fellow graduates, welcome, and thank you for being here.

It is somewhat poetic that this is the place where we started our journey here at UTD, lining up for orientation. This is the same place we are about to end it, or should I say, start a new one. I have worked in this very hall for the past two years, and today I shall walk out as a strong professional and a fearless engineer, but most of all, a better human being.

It all started when I received that email stating that I had been accepted to UTD. Next thing you know, a 6-foot-7-inch boy was standing outside an airplane with trembling legs, quivering lips and teary eyes. Looking at that day and today, I think we all did pretty well. Boarding that flight into a new world, a world you have just heard and read about — boy, did it take courage and a lot of it at that. Being away from my family and friends, the journey surely had its ups and downs. But at the end of it all, I feel proud to say that UT Dallas and every element that it stands for has taught me that maybe you are a very small character on this world stage, but never should you feel that you cannot make a difference.

“I feel proud to say that UT Dallas and every element that it stands for has taught me that maybe you are a very small character on this world stage, but never should you feel that you cannot make a difference.”

Our actions and thoughts hold a power, a strength beyond imagination, and they were never more needed than today. In a time when the World Happiness Index is plummeting, and racial and socioeconomic divides were never deeper in the modern world, it is up to us to take control, appreciate the need for effort and drive the change.

You need to look beyond the small talk and the formalities, and you shall see millions of ways to make this world a better place for the people around us.

How difficult is it to spread joy? You are walking by the bus station and suddenly see a person sitting all alone, with his head bowed down, cradled in his hands. You stop and talk to him and make him smile. You didn’t know this, but he just needed reassurance that yes, he matters and that people do care.

How difficult is it to spread joy? You are at work with your headphones popped in and a co-worker tries to make a conversation about her career. It is unusual, but you still hear her out and give her your opinion. Advice from a work acquaintance is all she needed to quit and follow her dream of pursuing a career in music … she feels free.

How difficult is it to spread joy? You see your roommate is subdued and silent lately, you go to their room and ask them what is wrong. All they needed was an outlet to say everything on their mind. This would be the first day in two weeks that they get a full night’s sleep. So, I ask you again, how difficult is it to spread joy?

And what shall you get out of this? The feeling that this will give you is contentment. When you help someone, and that person expects you to ask for something in return, when you say, “Nope, you just take care,” the expression of surprise and love in those eyes will give you a feeling like nothing else. You will be at peace, knowing that you have made a difference in somebody’s life.

As we graduate and start a new phase in our lives, let us just forget all our regrets and mistakes. View this day as a clean slate. As we walk out of those doors, we shall start writing on this very clean slate.

Never had I thought that graduation would be so nostalgic and emotional a thing for me. As I look back at these two years, I realize the need and the importance of them in shaping my thoughts and my choices. I thank my mom, the strongest and the most resilient human being I have ever known. She put her confidence in me, gave me an atmosphere and the resources that allowed me to be where I am today, and most of all she told me, “It is OK not to win all the time, but never be scared of making a decision.” I thank the teachers here at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science who have been an inspiration for me to constantly better myself. Thank you, all of you, for giving me your time and listening to me.

Keep your head held high, your dreams big, your hustle strong and stand and fight for what you believe in, because remember, as Dan Gable once said: “Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.”

Aniket Patil graduated with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He served as a senator in Student Government and worked in the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance and University Recreation. The native of Nagpur, India, plans to pursue research in the field of thermal and fluid analysis.