Chelsea Garner

Master of Science, Accounting

I want to thank President Daniel, Provost Wildenthall, Dean Cunningham, Dean Pirkul, and Dr. Monica Powell for the opportunity to speak with all of you today.

As I stand here today, I can’t help but reminisce on my time here at UT Dallas. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue my master’s in accounting at the Jindal School of Management. From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I felt a sense of unity and community among the students, staff and faculty. Whether you are in finance, marketing, accounting or anything else, we have all been treated with compassion, understanding, encouragement and guidance. The professors and faculty genuinely care about each student and want everyone to succeed.

Profile Photo of Chelsea Garner

My journey has led me to principles that every one of you should keep in mind:

We are here today to celebrate a great milestone. But what do we do now? This is a question that many have asked and only a few have answered. What really matter on this day is what and who we will become in the future. Throughout my time here at UT Dallas, I have asked professors, alumni and professionals the same type of questions: What is one piece of advice you would give to a student who is about to start his or her career? What characteristic do you think is important in a young professional? This has led me down a path to seek the answer to the question, “What really matters in your career?”

We need to stand by the morals and ethics that have been instilled in us throughout our lives and education at UT Dallas, which has cultivated us into the professionals of the future. The business world will tempt us to make choices that will benefit us over the well-being of society, the company or our stakeholders. We will continually be forced onto a crossroads. We have been taught by the best of the best to make the right decisions and use our minds to decipher right from wrong. It is imperative to maintain this code of ethics and make all choices with the greater question in mind, “What really matters?” Professor Chris Linsteadt was and is always a great example of someone who maintains a high ethical standard and continues to guide his students in developing their characters. I am thankful to have spent time around him and learned from his experiences. You now represent a larger group of alumni and professionals, and your actions reflect on the University.

Next, we need to consider our impact on others and those we come in contact with. As UT Dallas alumni, we represent an elite group of professionals who have stepped in our shoes, understand the long night classes, and have endured what we have endured. Driving and rushing to class after long workdays just to find that the parking lot is full and you are fighting for a spot to make it to class on time. Looking back now, all of those late nights on campus are more than worth it for the education and experience that we have received. The impact that UT Dallas has had on our lives is indescribable, and as I consider what opportunities have been opened to us, I know that we will pay this forward to other students in the future. I am not only talking about your financial donations to support the Jindal School of Management but also the donation of your time, expertise, insight and mentorship. This is a cycle, and just as you have prospered, it is essential that you give back to your community and UT Dallas. I remember attending the UT Dallas IIA student chapter meeting during my first semester here, and I was taken aback by the number of alumni and professionals who continually reached out to students to assist us in interviews for projects, meetings to understand the profession, and their willingness to help in any way they could. This type of interaction is priceless.

Lastly, we need to look at situations from different angles and be open to creativity. Not all situations in the business world are black or white; there is an element of gray that needs to be considered. It is important to be open-minded to others on your team, those ranked above you, or even below you. Professor Mark Salamasick, the director of the Internal Auditing Education Partnership program, taught me by example to be open to new and innovative ideas. Throughout my time as a teaching assistant with Professor Salamasick, he has continuously let students contribute to the program and treated us as equals.

“The impact that UT Dallas has had on our lives is indescribable, and as I consider what opportunities have been opened to us, I know that we will pay this forward to other students in the future.”

I hope that all of you will consider these principles that I have shared with you. There is always more to learn and this mindset will benefit you immensely in the future. I am so proud of each one of you for fulfilling your dreams and dedicating time, energy and effort to receiving your master’s degrees. As my grandma always said, “No one can ever take your education away from you.” I think she was onto something. Education is irreplaceable. I hope that you look back on this experience with gratitude, fond memories, and a little hint of nostalgia. UT Dallas has provided you with the foundation to be successful, and now it is up to you to execute. It is important, whether you live to work or work to live, that you need to have a little fun in between.

Thank you so much for your time.

Chelsea Garner is receiving her master’s in accounting with an Internal Audit Education Partnership certificate. She was the vice president of Student Affairs for the UT Dallas Institute of Internal Auditors Student Chapter and a teaching assistant for the Center of Internal Auditing Excellence. She has accepted a job in Risk Advisory Services with Weaver & Tidwell in the firm’s Fort Worth office and will be performing risk assurance, internal audit, and consulting services to clients in Texas.