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Alan Howell

Master of Science, Supply Chain Management

Thank you President Daniel, Provost Wildenthal, Dean Cunningham, Dean Pirkul, distinguished guests, our renowned faculty, amazing family and friends and the graduating class of 2013. It is a privilege and an honor to be speaking to you today.

When I first got the invitation to be here, I told a few fellow students. Since then, I have had several come up to me, asking me to keep this short. There are even rumors of a Facebook “Keep it short, Alan”

Web page. I’m just kidding; however, I would like to briefly share my journey here at UT Dallas.

Profile Photo of Alan Howell

My story starts in 2006.

My name is Alan Howell. I just turned 41 in March. I got married 15 years ago to the most wonderful and most patient woman on this Earth. We have three intelligent and incredible children. After getting laid off from my employer after 16 years, I knew it was time to go back to school. I received an associate’s degree in science at Collin County in 2008. I continued to get my undergrad from here at UT Dallas in 2011 in management information systems and business administration. Today, I am about to receive a graduate degree in supply chain management.

Supply chain management is the ... well, I will not bore you with the definition. But, it involves statistics, management and the ability to see the big picture. The big picture here today is that we are all on a journey together. It is a journey that will lead us to many new places, many new adventures and a fresh step forward to the destination of our dreams.

One of my fondest memories here at UT Dallas is with a faculty member. The discussion was with Dr. Shawn Alborz. He is the supply chain program director. We sat down and had a conversation about my academic progress and future plans. He gave me some profound advice, as I was a student switching careers from IT to supply chain management. His counsel was to look at the big picture, but to also remember the journey.

I would like to recognize today our executive, global and cohort Master of Business Administration students; our supply chain management students; healthcare management students; finance, management and administrative science students; our newest systems engineering and management students; and our dual-degree students. Together we have many shared stories.

For instance, a few of us will never forget smoking double-apple tobacco from a hookah and eating hummus with fellow Middle Eastern students, nor forget Taiwan Cafe luncheons with fellow Chinese students, or the incredibly late night dinners with Indian students. Nor will I forget philosophy and political discussions with Turkish and Lebanese students or pho with Vietnamese and Korean students. I also remember speaking to the newest grad students during orientation. It was refreshing to see the new blood and do the evil inside laugh because I knew the challenges ahead of them.

We are all part of a brotherhood and sisterhood of alumni. We are all parts of groups, teams and fraternities created here. Let us not forget to remember the relationships we have built.

Today is the day when we can stop thinking about some things. Gone are the case groups in which one member didn’t quite work out. Gone are the tests that were so hard our brains exploded when walking out the door. Gone are the professors keeping us until the very last minute. Gone are the student discounts. Gone are the days looking for a parking spot. One thing that will continue is our shared journey. We should remember to cling to our experiences with one another, for that is what makes us who we are: diverse, open and accepting in bringing in the global challenges of tomorrow.

In closing, we are all part of a brotherhood and sisterhood of alumni. We are all parts of groups, teams and fraternities created here. Let us not forget to remember the relationships we have built. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are our tools to keep in touch. Remember, we have a profound impact on our school’s ranking. We should always honor and respect our University. Finally, when we leave today, we should not forget to give back to our community by being mentors, and hiring interns and fellow students.

For today, let’s hit the pause button on the challenges that await us. Let’s celebrate the journey we have been on together. Let’s celebrate all that we have accomplished. Congratulations, Class of 2013.


Alan Howell earned a master’s degree in supply chain management. He also holds a bachelor’s in management information systems and business administration from UT Dallas. He was a recipient of the dean’s IMPACT scholarship. His team won the first annual SCM case competition.