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Rebecca Tjahja

Bachelor of Science, Finance

Good morning, Class of 2018. We did it. It is truly such an honor to be standing in front of you all to congratulate you on your amazing accomplishments these past years, and to wish you farewell as you embark on your future endeavors. First and foremost, we should all thank Dr. Richard Benson, Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, Dean Jessica Murphy and Dean Hasan Pirkul for this wonderful opportunity, and for shaping this University into the incredible institution it is today. To the class of 2018 families, friends and loved ones, thank you for sticking by us through the thick and thin, and for celebrating this momentous occasion with us.

When we think of The University of Texas at Dallas, one word often comes to mind: Opportunity. Look to your left and to your right. You could be sitting beside the next CEO of a Fortune 500 company, the next political influencer or to the next amazing mother or father-to-be — and it all started here, the place where dreams were created, realities revealed and leaders born.

When I first walked on to campus, I would have never thought I would be standing here four years later, talking to you all, having experienced the McDermott Scholars Program, worked for the President of the United States, spoken on national television, joined a sorority, procrastinated on studying as much as I did, and made lifelong friends that have made such an immense impact on my life. We all have our unique stories here, and as our unique paths have had the opportunity to run parallel here for the past years, let us not forget the faculty that taught us, the staff that guided us and the leadership here that is continually pushing our school to the next level.

Let’s take it back to our first weeks of school. We all probably remember being a little lost but overwhelmed by the amount of support and willingness to help from not only faculty and staff, but also students all around us. Most of us did not know what we were doing, what majors to pursue, let alone what careers we wanted or felt inspired to enter. But I think I won’t be the first to say that this University and the people who shape it have shaped us, and helped give us whatever resources, guidance and sometimes very needed wake-up calls to succeed. I know personally being someone from out of state, whose family is in California, UT Dallas gave me a home.

The Naveen Jindal School of Management has given all of us the chance to shoot for the stars and take a leap of faith through collective opportunities provided to us by our amazing faculty, peer mentors and fellow students. The greatest thing about this school is that it has done nothing but encourage us to shoot for those stars and nothing less. I see that same fire, that same influence on so many of you here sitting before me today. If there is just one thing I want you to hear from this speech, it is to never forget where we came from. Never forget the long halls of the Jindal School of Management, the random, sometimes scary sightings of Temoc, but most importantly all the opportunities that this school has given us these past years. At the end of the day, no matter where life takes us, we will be your family and we will be your No. 1 supporters.

“This is only the beginning of the rest of our lives, and the opportunities are endless. Take that leap of faith, push those boundaries of achievement and with Comets at your side, there is nothing that we can’t accomplish.”

I would like to end with one of my favorite quotes from Winston Churchill: “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” UT Dallas has been our home for the past four years, and we are now about to embark on such an incredible journey beyond what most of us can probably imagine. I want you to take a deep breath and remember this moment. This is only the beginning of the rest of our lives, and the opportunities are endless. Take that leap of faith, push those boundaries of achievement and, with Comets at your side, there is nothing that we can’t accomplish.

Thank you, Class of 2018, for allowing me these words today. I wish the absolute best to you in everything that you do.  

Rebecca Tjahja, a McDermott Scholar and Collegium V Honors student, graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in finance and a minor in political science. She plans to move to Washington, D.C., where she will work in political and public affairs consulting with Hamilton Place Strategies.