Grads Celebrate Milestone With Families, Colleagues, Friends

Ceremonies Honor a Record Number of Fall Semester Graduates at University of Texas at Dallas

Dec. 11, 2012

Laura Shagwell at Fall 2012 Graduation

Laura Shagman received a job offer from Texas Instruments the day before her graduation. “I’m thrilled,” she said. “I’ve had so much support here at UTD.”

When Dustin Tsai celebrated his new master’s degree on Friday, he shared his accomplishment with two UT Dallas alumni in his life – his brother and his boss.

Both came to support him during one of six graduation ceremonies held at The University of Texas at Dallas last week. More than 1,900 freshly minted graduates participated in the largest fall graduation in the University’s 43-year history.

Tsai earned his degree in software engineering, six years after his older brother, Albert Tsai, earned a master’s degree in computer science. His boss at DRS Technologies, Chris Reed, earned his master’s in electrical engineering in 1999.

Reed hired Tsai after being impressed by him during an internship. Though he hadn’t graduated yet, Tsai worked full-time while carrying a full class load to complete his degree.

“We’ve been pretty flexible with his hours, but he does a great job. He’s young, and he’s got energy. I give him direction, and he gets it done,” Reed said.

The ceremonies were held at the University’s Activity Center, where red poinsettia plants lined the stage before a backdrop of banners from each of the University’s seven schools.

Family and friends held high their smartphones, video cameras and tablets to record the moment that their graduates crossed the stage.  

In his graduation address, President David E. Daniel told graduates that online technology may be transforming the college experience, but research universities like UT Dallas will always provide the hands-on opportunities found at brick-and-mortar campuses.

“In many areas of medicine, science and engineering, there is simply no substitute for experimentation as a fundamental element of discovery and innovation. And that experimentation involves buildings, laboratories, people and sophisticated equipment,” Daniel said.

“If you are an employer, would you rather hire someone with just book-smarts or someone with all this knowledge and experience in the discovery process that the research university affords?”

Ade Omere, VP of the UT Dallas chapter of Society of Women Engineers

Ade Omere, president of the UT Dallas chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, earned a bachelor of science in electrical engineering.

In keeping with tradition, six students delivered addresses, including Alex Chung, a summa cum laude graduate in electrical engineering from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. Chung said that when he arrived in the U.S. eight years ago, he was afraid his English would not be good enough to order anything more complicated than a hot dog at the airport.

“I never want to forgo any opportunities simply because I lack the courage to try something new,” he told his fellow graduates. “We now possess the courage to face all the challenges of a new life and a new set of circumstances.”

Audrey Popp, who received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, encouraged her peers to find their passions and pursue them.  

“Whether it is to find a cure for cancer or to aid in the fight against child abuse, there is a place and a purpose for each and every one of us. We have completed our period of learning, and now it is time for action,” said Popp, who completed an internship working with abused children and their families and plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work.

After the ceremonies, family members gathered on the campus central mall to celebrate with their new graduates. The temperate weather offered sunshine and plenty of photo opportunities near Chess Plaza, built in honor of the University’s nationally ranked chess program.

Dustin Tsai with his father at graduation. Mark and Flor Bruderer at Fall 2012 Graduation

Dustin Tsai, who earned a master's in software engineering, celebrates with his father, Hunlan Tsai.


Mark and Flor Bruderer celebrate with their boys. His bachelor's degree is in computer engineering.

Jessica Sandoval and Rubie Tran Michael Solorio, Jr

Jessica Sandoval and Ruby Tran both earned bachelor's degrees from the Naveen Jindal School of Management.


Michael Solorio Jr. celebrates earning a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the Erik Jonsson School.

Graduates clutched flowers, diploma folders and cellphones as they chatted about their plans.

Laura Shagman’s academic career ended with great news for the graduate — she received a job offer from Texas Instruments the day before.

“I’m thrilled,” she said. “I’ve had so much support here at UTD, and I'm really happy and sad at the same time that it’s coming to an end.”

As she made her way through a long line of fellow graduates, she stopped to hug Dr. Cy Cantrell, senior associate dean in the Jonsson School.

He congratulated her on her degree and job opportunity.

Joseph Johnson Jr. took advantage of some down time while waiting for his family. He munched on a veggie wrap from the campus food truck.

“It’s awesome to be done. It’ll feel even better after my finals are over,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to college, but my grandfather always told me, ‘Nothing will ever replace a college degree.’ And when I had one degree, I came back for another.”

Three ceremonies were held on Friday, honoring 874 graduates from the Naveen Jindal School of Management and 317 from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. On Saturday, graduations were held for the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences with 204 graduates, the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences with 154, the School of Arts and Humanities with 153, the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics with 137 and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies with 72. Overall, UT Dallas expects to award 936 master's and PhD diplomas, and 975 undergraduate diplomas after the semester is officially completed next week.

Media Contact: Robin Russell, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].
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May 21, 2018