A Glimpse of Graduation

Vance Weintraub

Master of Business Administration

Hello graduates, faculty members, family, and friends. I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today, and would like to thank President Daniel, Provost Wildenthal, Dean Pirkul, Dr. Monica Powell, the entire JSOM faculty, and my fellow cohorts for giving me this opportunity to reminisce, inspire, and look forward.

Don't…Stop…Believin'. This is the famous anthem of one of the greatest bands of all time: Journey. Their name provides an appropriate segue into a topic I would like to speak on today: our collective journey.

Journeys are about the events that shape our lives, the people we meet along the way, and the lessons we gather as we forge our own paths.

Whether you are 24 or 84, graduating with your degree in accounting or entrepreneurship, or whether you are from Dallas or from abroad, you have had your personal journey shaped by UT Dallas. Over the course of the last year and a half, my personal path has been forged as part of the Full-Time MBA Program. I have spent most of my time attending school events, networking functions, and nights out with my classmates…while still making time to attend class. At least, that's the story I'm sticking with. There are events that I will always remember fondly, and then there are events that most likely shaved years off my life. Sometimes they were the same ones. For example, the all-nighters spent finishing case competition presentations, the late-night finance exam study sessions, and the cohort get-togethers we were afraid to see the next day on Facebook. There were other events like traveling to Prague with my classmates over the summer, representing the school in the Red Bull Soap Box Derby, or singing karaoke at a classmate’s birthday party that helped mold my experience just as much as any marketing, accounting, or strategy class ever could. In other words, UT Dallas offered me variety, and if variety is the spice of life, then UT Dallas was my Heinz 57…or my masala, to put it more appropriately.

“I encourage you today to take this opportunity to reflect on your journey. Remember where you were before your time at UT Dallas, and how you grew as a person, as a student, and as a leader, and look forward to the things your education will enable you to do in the future.”

There are many people who deserve credit for allowing us to have such a variety of experiences, but a few groups should specifically be mentioned. For me, this includes the faculty members who pushed me to put on my thinking cap, amongst them Dr. Suresh Radhakrishnan, Dr. Padmakumar Nair, Dr. Ram Rao, and Professor Chris Linsteadt. I’m sure there are professors who have had a critical impact on your time in school, so please take the time today to thank them and tell them how they helped you. If I did not mention your name earlier please do not take it out on my final exam grade, as I appreciate every teacher I have had while at UT Dallas. Other people who shaped my path include administrators like Lisa Shatz, Joanna Fowler, and Tom Kim. Or those people, like mentors, who have simply inspired my journey: Thea Junt, Pamela Foster Brady, and Shelle Carrig, to name a few. I would be remiss if I did not mention the appreciation I have for my classmates, with special regard to the elder statesmen of the MBA program for their knowledge, patience, and leadership. Now, as alumni, we all share a similar responsibility to help each other grow, learn, and succeed. Lastly, I would like to give thanks on the behalf of all the graduates to the parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, and friends who undoubtedly provided a listening ear for us to voice our complaints and our accomplishments. Today, you can see your support has not been in vain.

For many of the students here, your journey has taken you across oceans into new worlds with new cultures. You are what makes this school part of a bigger network. The diversity of the student body may be my favorite thing about this school and about my program. I now have friends from India, China, Brazil, Pakistan, Taiwan, Canada, Iran, and South Africa, and they now have a friend from Texas. Whether you are from Dallas, Lubbock, New Delhi, New Orleans, or Beijing, I encourage you today to take this opportunity to reflect on your journey. Remember where you were before your time at UT Dallas, and how you grew as a person, as a student, and as a leader, and look forward to the things your education will enable you to do in the future. Journey forward while taking the time to look back.

Wherever your journey takes you next, I hope you fail. Fear not, as I mean this with the best intentions. My point is best expressed in the philosophy of David Kelley, the founder of the forward thinking design firm, IDEO, whose most famous saying is “fail early, fail often.” By this he means that the more you fail, the more you learn, the more you innovate, the more you grow, and the faster you succeed.

To conclude, I will leave you with one last point —please take the time amongst your future successes to appreciate what UT Dallas did for you, and how you can give back to enhance someone else's journey. I would like to wish all of you exciting and lasting memories. Congratulations to us all as we embark on the next chapter of our collective journey.

Thank you.

Vance Weintraub received his MBA degree with a concentration in marketing and innovation. As a member of the Full-Time MBA Program, he was involved in four team case competitions and represented UT Dallas in this year’s DFW Red Bull Soap Box Derby. He was a finalist in the 2012 Humana Infusion Case Competition and was awarded first place in the 2011 UT Dallas Business Idea Competition. While earning his MBA, he interned with 7-Eleven as a member of its proprietary beverage team, and with The Richards Group as part of its brand management staff. Vance also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in industrial design from the University of Kansas. After graduation, he plans to combine his creative abilities with his recent business experience to help companies develop new ideas and strategies for growth.