Rose Ashraf

Bachelor of Science, Psychology

Esteemed faculty, family and friends: Thank you for being a part of our success today. My fellow students, today is about us. Today is about our accomplishments as the Behavioral and Brain Sciences graduating class of 2013. It is an honor to speak to you and for you. My intention is to focus on those things we all think about, and that many of us are bold enough to say. I hate to be the one to expose our secrets; but, friends and family, this is a window into the world of a Comet.

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Things Comets say—

Our football team? Yeah, it’s undefeated.

We all know that being a student at UT Dallas is not the Hollywood definition of the college life, but we embrace it with good humor. We are armed with a witty retort, and often a mini whoosh, when our school spirit is questioned. In fact, given the opportunity, some of us will break out into a well-researched rant about why we are better off without a football team and how its existence would, in fact, be damaging to the Comet spirit. Say what you will, but we take pride in our atmosphere. We know we aren't just another university; we make jokes about it, and we cherish it. Our good humor, our pride and our eagerness to embrace our differences: It's what we do.

No, but really, our chess team is awesome.

This statement usually follows the great football debate. We all come to the same conclusion: Why bother with football when we have one of the greatest chess teams in the nation? After all, our chess players often play blindfolded. How many football players can do that? Again, here at UT Dallas, we embrace our quirks. We celebrate them, we brag about them to our friends, and we hold pep rallies for them. We are completely aware of the peculiarity, we just prefer to call it extraordinary.

I know someone that has access to The Mermaid.

It is no secret that tremendous research contributions are made at UT Dallas. We happen to have a beautiful building devoted to it. The fact that special identification is required to get into the building just makes it that much more impressive. We are truly fortunate to be a part of a campus that values and supports research as much as UT Dallas does. As students, we often tell each other "my professor's book is being turned into a movie," or "my professor just received a multi-million dollar grant," or "my professor is developing an invisibility cloak." Not only do these conversations highlight our boastful nature, but also our spectacular faculty. At UT Dallas, and specifically in the school of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, we possess mentors that are at the top of their fields and are devoted to our success as students. Our accomplishments in a classroom setting, and for many of us in a lab setting, are largely because of them.

“We are Comets, and whatever that means to each of us, we will carry that identity with us wherever we end up. We will always defend our chess team, brag about our faculty and rub a statue’s head to cope with anxiety.”

We did NOT have that my freshmen year.

I don't think this statement requires much explaining. As a cohort, we have had the opportunity to experience UT Dallas at a very unique time in its history. Whether it be a new building, thousands of trees or the use of cutting-edge technologies, UT Dallas is constantly developing. We are increasingly ranked as not only one of the most beautiful college campuses out there, but also as one of the most desirable. The opportunistic students among us see it as our degrees becoming increasinly valuable. The sentimental students among us see it as an opportunity to watch an incredible university grow into something even better. Some of us even feel an older sibling type of jealousy for all the new opportunities incoming students will have. "You get to ride a Comet Cab from Residence Hall West to JSOM? I had to trek from my apartment to the SOM during a week of ice and snow."

And lastly,
Total Comet Move

This three-word statement sums up quite a bit. Despite all of our differences, whether it be ethnicity, major or interests, we have developed a united identity — an identity that is built on pride, an ironic sense of humor

and tremendous opportunities as a student of UT Dallas. We may not all agree on what exactly defines a Comet move, but the fact that there is such a thing says a lot about us.

So, Comets, although it may feel like today is the end of our term here at UT Dallas, I am here to tell you it's not. We are comets, and whatever that means to each of us, we will carry that identity with us wherever we end up. We will always defend our chess team, brag about our faculty and rub a statue's head to cope with anxiety. We may be physically leaving UT Dallas, but it is not leaving us. Friends, family, faculty, staff and students: thank you for giving us, as the Comet community, something to be proud of.

Rose Ashraf graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She has made the best of her time at UTD by becoming involved in several organizations and serving as a Peer Advisor. She became involved in Dr. Marion Underwood’s research lab on The Blackberry Project early in her academic career. As part of this lab, she was awarded the Buhrmester Undergraduate Research Award for her research accomplishments. In addition, she was able to attend the biennial conference of the Society for Research and Child Development, where she presented a poster of her research findings. Outside of UTD, she has volunteered with CONTACT Crisis Line for the past year, answering calls every weekend from community members in crisis. After graduating, she plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology at Southern Methodist University.