Class of 2016 – University of Texas

UT Graduation 2016 -A 001“What starts here changes the world.” That’s the motto of the University of Texas. Above, the University of Texas College of Natural Sciences held its commencement at the Frank Erwin Center early Saturday morning, May 21, 2016. Some 2,043 College of Natural Science students graduated and received their degrees. Many graduates also decorated their mortar boards with colorful flowers, photos, blinking and LED lights to celebrate the end of their long hours of studying, research and preparation and the start of a new chapter in their lives. Later that day, the university held its outdoor evening commencement for all the students, faculty, family and invited guests at the main campus in Austin.  

sara-martinez-tucker_img_assist_custom-200x250Below are excerpts from the evening keynote address by UT Regent Sara Martinez-Tucker.  Photo Courtesy:

“Our lives are a series of journeys – the journey that brought us all to this magnificent campus, our journey through here and, the most important journey of all: your journey to discover the potential that lies within each of you. The journey that will define your purpose.” said Sara Martinez-Tucker, a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

Tucker delivered the keynote speech at the 133rd Spring Commencement at the University of Texas in Austin on May 21, 2016.  Tucker graduated with honors from UT with a Bachelors degree in Journalism and a Masters degree in Business Administration. She was a general assignments reporter for the San Antonio Express, a corporate executive, not-for-profit leader and Secretary of Education during President George W. Bush’s administration.

Tucker, who is from Laredo, Texas, worked for her family’s convenience store. She came to UT Austin to pursue a degree in journalism. She told the graduates about how her parents inspired and challenged their children to always improve and make a difference.

Tucker shared 3 tips with the graduates.

“First, find your talents,” said Tucker.

“The lesson I’d like for you to take away? Don’t overestimate the importance or the influence of the major or majors you selected on the discovery of your potential. My majors didn’t define me, my careers or my potential. They provided skills, necessary skills, that I could put to use in each of my jobs. My work helped me discover my talents and, ultimately, what would influence my life’s work. ”

“Second, find your voice,” said Tucker.  She talked about her climb to a senior position at AT & T and finding her voice.

“I asked someone I really respected to define the most important asset in a boardroom. All these years later, I can still hear her voice: “The ability to say something and be heard.” Tucker said.

“Stay true to yourself” Tucker said.

“Finally, find your passion,” Tucker said.

Before she became Secretary of Education, Tucker raised $280 million of dollars in scholarships and outreach programs so that Hispanic and Latino students could have a college education.  Tucker also was the first Latina woman to reach the executive level at AT & T, where she worked for 16 years. She also has served on Toyota’s Diversity Board.

“I’ve had the good fortune to meet with college students frequently. They often ask, “How did you know,” when they learn of my progression from reporter to corporate executive to national not-for-profit leader to public servant. They wanted to know how I made the decisions to follow the paths I followed, and how I knew the timing was right. When to evolve; when to reinvent. The truth of the matter is: I didn’t. I didn’t follow a path, I didn’t follow a plan; I just knew I needed to keep evolving,” Tucker said.

“Each of us has made our own way here. It was easier for some than it was for others. But we’ve made it. We’ve earned our place here. What will we do with this gift? What can we do?” Tucker said.

“If I could have a conversation with my father tonight, I’d say, “Daddy, all those year ago, you were right. What I’ve learned is that first and foremost, I am a person. I am Sara Martinez Tucker. I also happen to be a woman of Hispanic heritage. But you missed something. There’s something else that defines me. I am also a graduate of The University of Texas.” Tucker said.”

“Tonight, so is each and every one of you. Congratulations! Hook ‘em!”  Tucker said.

—-Carol Lim

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