Lance Sweeney

Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering

Congratulation graduates. We’re finished! I know everyone is excited and deserves a big pat on the back. Go ahead, give yourself a pat, or help the person next to you if he or she cannot reach. Just remember though, that we did not do this alone. We did not get here by ourselves. Achievements like this one do not happen in a vacuum. First of all, we want to thank the faculty of UT Dallas for making these past four years (or more) as blissful as possible. Now look at all the people gathered here today to celebrate with us. Mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, and yes, let us not forget all of our friends – we are here today because of them. We have been successful because of them. Always remember – we depend on those around us.

We are finished. No more midterms, lab reports, or pop quizzes. No more all-nighters, no more papers and reports lost to computer crashes, and no more caffeine to keep you up 48 hours straight. We have all dreamed of this day! So now what? Most of you will go out tonight and celebrate – some of you look like you’ve already started celebrating. We have all worked so hard to get to this point, but eventually we all ask ourselves, “Now what do I do?” Well, that’s a good question. What do you want to do?

Profile Photo of Lance Sweeney

There are so many good things we can do that it can be hard to decide what the best thing to do is. What have you always wanted to do? What can you see yourself doing? Whatever you choose to do, be deliberate about it! Do not let the current of life drag you along and make the choices for you. We can look around this campus and see the effect a choice has made. UT Dallas has not grown to what it is today by accident. Its growth has been planned and deliberate. Many visionaries foresaw the UT Dallas of today and tomorrow, where once there were only cornfields. Thomas Edison said, “I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident.” Be active in planning your future!

So, what do you want to do? Some of us want to find a job and get rich. As the graduate students can attest, some of us want to get another degree and put off getting rich. Some of us want to start a family. Some of us want to buy a house or start a business of our own. These are all good starts, but let me repeat myself – we are not successful in a vacuum. We do not succeed by ourselves. Whatever you choose to do, remember those around you. I believe each of us is here because someone else helped us, motivated us or inspired us. You will be successful as you do the same for others. Erik Jonsson, a co-founder of Texas Instruments and UT Dallas once said, “The worth of a man to his society can be measured by the contributions he makes to it.”

So I ask again, “Have you decided what you want to do?” Once you have decided, be committed to your choice. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.” So yes, this means we still have work to do. Success requires work, regardless of whether that work is in school, our profession, our relationships, or our families. Now with diplomas in hand, we can work smarter, but we still have a lot to learn. Never stop learning, never stop studying. No matter how much we learn or how smart we are, education is not a replacement for effort. Nothing can replace consistent hard work.

“Never stop learning, never stop studying.  No matter how much we learn or how smart we are, education is not a replacement for effort. Nothing can replace consistent hard work.”

So, what are you going to do? Remember what you have learned in and out of the lectures and textbooks. As you walk away from this graduation ceremony, you have your whole life ahead of you. Enjoy the journey.

Now, I must warn each of you. Our degrees do not ensure us against failure. We are not perfect, but we are resilient. We must be determined. We cannot be discouraged by failure. The greatest successes are built on the ruins of failure. Each of us will be successful when we surround ourselves with people who will never settle for mediocrity and will encourage us in success or failure.

Lance Sweeney graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with plans of earning a master’s in the same field in 2014 under the Fast Track program. At UT Dallas, he has worked at the Natural Science and Engineering Research Lab in the Advanced Polymer Research Lab. He wants to pursue product research and development.