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Elaine Xueqi Wang

Master of Science, Management and Administrative Science

Good afternoon, administrators, professors, facilities teams, families, friends, friends of friends and fellow classmates.

Seven years ago, when I came to the United States as an international student from a small city in China, I couldn’t handle a complete conversation using fluent English. After my very first class, my mom called me and asked how my class was, and I gave her my honest answer, “Well, I understood 30 percent of what the professor was talking about, inferred another 30 percent and imagined the remaining 40 percent.” Language was once the deepest gap for me to fit in this country, but now I’m honored to stand here and give a speech in English in front of all of you.

I believe my story is not much different from all of yours. We all came to UT Dallas from different places with different families, stories and backgrounds. We have different eating habits, speak different languages and hold different beliefs. But during the past two or three or four years of campus life here, our stories have become interwoven. I’m so proud that I successfully taught two of my American friends to distinguish among Chinese, Korean and Japanese. And I was forced by my Indian friends to taste some authentic Indian food, which was … very interesting. We all came to this University knowing little of who we would meet, what we would become or what we would accomplish, and now we are sitting here, knowing exactly who we are.

“We all came to this University knowing little of who we would meet, what we would become or what we would accomplish, and now we are sitting here, knowing exactly who we are.”

I am so excited at this moment, because right now we are closing the chapter of being a student, and opening a new chapter of being a banker, a lawyer, an entrepreneur or any other profession that we’ve dreamed about. I would love to share with you two of the most important things that I’ve learned at UT Dallas which will equip us before we go.

First, be open. We’re lucky that UT Dallas is one of the nation’s most diverse campuses, and since the United States is the most diverse country in the world and no aliens have been found yet, we are basically one of the most diverse campuses in the whole galaxy, and we are the real Comets! Whoosh! There was one semester when I took an entrepreneurship class. That was a small class which consisted of only four students and we had Chinese, Thai, Indian, British and American in a single classroom. If you wonder how can four students share five nationalities? Well, our professor took one.

The world is rapidly growing, and the earth is becoming a small village. We are no longer identified as black, white and yellow; we are just different shades of brightness on one human spectrum. This new world is about collaboration without stereotyping. The more open we are to accepting our differences and learning from each other, the faster we can grow, and the stronger we will be. And it is not hard at all; we’ve already mastered that skill. Remember how you argued with your roommates and eventually came to a solution? Remember how you struggled to work on a group project with some randomly assigned people who could never agree on the meeting time, but you still worked it out eventually? The future will be just like that, and since this is a graduation ceremony, we didn’t drop out or fail our courses, so we are all ready for the next chapter.

The second thing I’d love to share with you that I’ve learned here is always keep going forward. I started my company, Cthrough, in my second semester here at UTD. It is not easy and feels like a roller-coaster ride. One day, I can be sitting on top of a mountain thinking I’m going to change the world, and the next day I can be hit with a major problem that I have no clue how to deal with. But whenever I think about giving up, there is always a little voice in my mind reminding me how difficult it was for me to get where I am and telling me, “keep going forward.”

I am so glad that I followed my inner voice and never stopped, and now our company is healthy and growing.

I like the old saying, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” We are the survivors; we’ve overcome whatever difficulties we have faced so far to be here today, and we’ve already developed those muscles.

Michelle Obama once told graduating students:

“Life will put many obstacles on your path that are far worse than a bad grade. You’ll have unreasonable bosses and difficult clients and patients. You’ll experience illnesses and losses, crises and setbacks that will come out of nowhere and knock you off your feet. But unlike so many other young people, you have already developed the resilience and the maturity that you need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep moving through the pain, keep moving forward.”

Remember, be open and keep going forward. None of us are meant to be common, we are Comets, traveling across time and space and leaving a dazzling mark as we crash into everything. Class of 2018, congratulations. Let’s go to our next galaxy! 

Elaine Xueqi Wang graduated with a master’s degree in management and administrative science. An international student from China, she is the founder and chief executive officer of Cthrough, an augmented reality startup that provides wayfinding solutions for large venue sites.