Interpreting TWU

TWU Commencement with parents

TWU Commencement with parents

Michelle King, 2009, General Studies, is a third generation TWU graduate, so it seems very appropriate that she is on stage at significant university events.  Michelle interprets in sign language for those in the audience who may not hear.  Among other events, she has been the interpreter for numerous Commencement ceremonies, for the visit of Dr. Maya Angelou in 2013 and for the November 2014 Inauguration of TWU’s new Chancellor and President, Dr. Carine Feyten. 

When it came time to enroll in college Michelle never thought of any other university.  This decision is not surprising considering her historical family ties:  Mom, Betty Sue Grandey, Class of 1971, from Texas Woman’s University; maternal grandmother, Rudine Owens McAlister from Texas State College for Women; and paternal grandmother, Esther Ubben Grandey from College of Industrial Arts.  Michelle thought she might study education, as they had, or perhaps business.  “But like so many other 18 year olds, I was not focused on school at that time in my life.”  Instead, she joined the workforce.

While the decision to learn sign language interpreting is usually an emotional one for most people because of a person that they know, the decision for Michelle was more practical.  “I worked at Voertman’s Bookstore as the office manager and we had a number of deaf clients.  My boss thought it would be good for public relations if we could advertise someone fluent in sign language.  Little did I know you do not become fluent in a semester…”

At age 21 she enrolled at Collin College and after taking her first sign class, she realized that this would be her college goal.  With the encouragement and mentoring of one of her teachers, Henry Whalen, she realized that she had the skill to do interpreting and finished the program with high marks.  With confidence and a new-found love of learning, Michelle eventually did enroll at TWU to pursue a bachelor’s degree while continuing to be employed and raise a family.  Although she was a non-traditional student and took most of her classes online, she did come to campus from time to time and found it just as beautiful as she remembered from childhood visits.

souris

TWU Professor Dr. Stephen Souris

“I had fabulous professors,” shared Michelle.  “I can look back on my classes and say I never had a teacher that didn’t take the time to know my name or make time for me or was not passionate about teaching.  Dr. Stephen Souris (professor of English) comes to mind particularly, as it was through his classes I truly learned how much I enjoy reading and analyzing a piece of literature from every angle.  I thank him profusely for that.”

About her graduation day, Michelle remembers how exciting and hectic it was.  “I was so excited and going a million miles an hour in many different directions.  Would I be able to obtain enough tickets for my loved ones?  Would I trip crossing the stage?  In hindsight, I wish I had decorated my cap, worn fabulously fun shoes, paused a little longer for that picture my mom was taking, and signed ‘I love you’ up to the audience towards my husband, parents, kids and friends.

At Graduation with family

Michelle and family at Graduation

That family that is so special to her consists of husband Dan, an A&M grad, and three children, Haley 17, Alyssa (called Lulu) who is almost 8, and Derek, age 6.  They live in Aubrey, TX.  Michelle treasures all the sporting and extra curricular activities in which the children are involved as well as the annual family trip to College Station for an Aggie football game and the occasional trip to Disney World or the trips to great granddad’s place on the Gulf to fish.

Michelle with kidsMichelle and husband

Providing sign language interpreting services for universities and agencies on a free-lance basis has provided Michelle with experiences she would not have had otherwise.  ” I’ve been exposed to a wealth of information, information I would not have chosen myself.  I am a lifelong student and even though you only retain a small percentage of what you interpret, I do feel my brain was exposed to it and I’ve grown from that experience.”

But this is not her primary employment.  Each day Michelle goes to work at Lone Star Ag Credit in Denton as a Sr. Loan Administrator.  She highly values the team of people with whom she works and likes making the dream of being a part of the agriculture industry come true for her clients.

TWU wishes Michelle all the best and looks forward to seeing her interpreting the next big university event!

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The Lass-O Celebrates 100 Years

During the 2014-15 academic year, TWU celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the first publication of the student newspaper, the Lasso-O.  During the year, as a part of the celebration, a number of campus events and speakers focused on ‘Women in the Media.’  The celebration culminated in April of 2015 at the annual TWU Homecoming and Reunion events during a reception, library exhibit and tour of the current Lasso offices all planned and hosted by the current Lasso staff.  All former editors and staff members of the Lasso were invited to be the special reception guests.  Below are highlights of the alumni event.

Current Lasso staff welcome alumni to the reception

Current Lasso staff welcome alumni to the reception

Lasso staff members who planned the alumni reception

Lasso staff members who planned the alumni reception

Lasso memories from 1949 -2014 were shared by alumni

Lasso memories from 1949 -2014 were shared by alumni

Former Lasso editors and staff gather in the TWU library

Former Lasso editors and staff gather in the TWU library

Vintage Lasso photos in a special slide show

Vintage Lasso photos in a special slide show

Alums found friends and themselves in the library Anniversary Exhibits

Alums found friends and themselves in the library Anniversary Exhibits

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TWU College of Nursing – 60th Anniversary

Dr. Carolyn Gunning, former Dean visits with alumni in front of one of the historical displays.

Dr. Carolyn Gunning, former Dean visits with alumni in front of one of the historical displays.

Throughout the 2014-2015 academic year, the TWU College of Nursing celebrated the anniversary of its 60th year!   Celebrations were held in Houston and Dallas in the fall semester and in April at the traditional Homecoming and Reunion weekend.  Below are a few photos from the Anniversary Brunch held on April 19th, 2015 in Hubbard Hall on the Denton campus.  In addition, you can read the historical time-line of the College of Nursing as given by Dr. Carolyn Gunning, Professor and Dean Emerita.  Read remarks.

Dr. Gunning gave a wonderful historical review of the College.

Dr. Gunning gave a wonderful historical review of the College.

Dr. Anita Hufft presented her inspiring vision for the future of the College.

Dean. Anita Hufft presented her inspiring vision for the future of the College.

Graduates from the mid 1960s remember past times at TWU

Graduates from the mid 1960s remember past times at TWU

Nursing 12             Nursing 10          Nursing 2

Nursing 7      Nursing 13  Nursing 14   Nursing 15

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Remembering Mitzi – A Remembrance of Mary Elizabeth Gaunt Roberts

Mona (Dean) Sizer

Mona (Dean) Sizer

Mary Elizabeth (Gaunt) Roberts

Mary Elizabeth “Mitzi” (Gaunt) Roberts

Following are excerpts from a tribute to Mary Elizabeth “Mitzi” Gaunt Roberts, written by her TWU classmate and later roommate, Mona Dean Young Sizer, Class of ’55.  Mona wrote this tribute after Mitzi’s death in 1998. 

“I heard Mary Elizabeth Gaunt before I ever met her.  She was standing beside a piano in the living room of Smith-Carroll Hall, the junior dormitory at Texas State College for Women.  The year was 1954.  She was singing.  She and three or four other girls including the pianist were singing a popular son of the day, or perhaps it was an old familiar song like ‘Shine on Harvest Moon’ or ‘Stardust.’ ” ……

“I thought she was absolutely wonderful.”

“She had such a clear, natural voice that when the junior class did the class stunt, Mitzi had one of the most important roles.  She played the LION.  I can still see her in my mind’s eye pacing across the stage, shaking the magnificent mane of her costume, exhorting all the other ‘Quadrupeds’ in the circus to consider leaving it because ‘back in our habitats, we weren’t doing so bad.’  As her beautiful, powerful voice belted out across the auditorium, Mitzi made you believe.”

“The juniors won stunts that year.  We were all ecstatic.  Mitzi particularly because being the best mattered terribly to her.” …..

“In the summer after graduation in 1955, I was finishing my masters in English when I asked Mitzi, who was graduating late, to room with me.  We spent six wonderful weeks together.”

“Then we came to Dallas together where our friendship continued.  She decided my English teacher’s vocabulary was superior to hers, so she took a self-improvement course.  She already had so many skills that I didn’t possess and wouldn’t if I studied another ten years, but she wanted to be better.”

“I was very sad when she went off to Carlisle, Massachusetts.  I was afraid I’d never see her again.  But with Mitzi, if you were a friend, you were a friend for life.”….

” My friend Mary Elizabeth Gaunt Roberts was the most versatile of women with an abundance of talent, of good sense, of humor, and of sensitivity.”

“I’ve lived in the world for more than forty years knowing that Mitzi was just a phone call away.  The fact that she’s not there from now-on leaves me with a lot of life to live unsupported.”

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TWU Commencement Address, May 2015 – Dr. Anne Utech

Dr. Anne Utech, Ph.D., RD, LD, holds two degrees from TWU, M.S 2005 and Ph. D. 2012, both in Nutrition and Food Science from the TWU Institute of Health Sciences – Houston Center.  She is Deputy national Director, Nutrition and Food Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA Central Office.  She is a 2015 Hallmark Alumni Award honoree.   

“Good afternoon, and welcome everyone to this joyous and triumphant occasion. We are all celebrating a phenomenal achievement by these professionals here today. I would like to recognize the professors and mentors, as well as the students here today.   Thank you for your dedication to your students, and to the professions you represent. Please know that each of you will harbor a special place in the memories and hearts of those you have taught for all of time.

And before we begin, I know we have Veterans and active military service men and women in the audience today. Now, I know you are all here supporting these lovely individuals, but if you would please do us the honors, please stand for a moment while we recognize you, and thank you for your service.

Thank you very much for allowing us to take that moment to honor you, who have supported our country and your loved ones here today. Also a special welcome to all the mothers in the house, today on Mother’s Day. I also graduated on Mother’s Day, and I know it was the best Mother’s Day present I could give my mom. Even my mom, who’s actually here today, who thinks she should get the presents on my birthday. I mean, she did all the work! I don’t even remember being born, but she sure does.   So moms, maybe you can take that idea and run with it to recoup having your glory stolen today. Or just add it to the long list of sacrifices you’ve made for us over the years… But all jest aside, I know the mothers in attendance or looking on from afar are very happy to be giving up their fame today to celebrate you, our graduates.

Including moms who are Veterans and all enrolled Veterans, The Veterans Health Administration serves 8.9 million veterans, and numbers are growing. Over the last four years, figures in Houston have grown from 122,000 to over 130,000 Veterans served locally. In my field, the field of nutrition and food services, the VA is moving toward a model of prevention, health promotion, and self management, to assist veterans in being the healthiest veterans they choose to be.

In recent years, all of healthcare nationwide is moving toward a more patient-centric, patient-provider partnership model of healthcare. In the private sector, you may have heard the term Patient Centered Medical Home. In the VA, this team based approach to healthcare is known as the Patient Aligned Care Team, utilizing physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, health technicians, clerical staff, dietitians, social workers, mental health providers, pharmacists, chaplains, and other allied healthcare professionals in a whole person approach to health care. I want to tell you graduates today, welcome to the TEAM. Also, think Health CARE, not health CONTROL. It is a partnership between you and your patient. Do not forget this fundamental fact as you explore all the career opportunities open to you today.

Today we are all here to recognize and honor your late nights studying, your late nights awake with the baby, worried about tomorrow’s exam, the time spent away from your family and loved ones, your victories, your disappointments, your perseverance, your late nights NOT studying, with Jose, Jim, Tito… those are important too! Nothing a little Red Bull and Excedrin can’t fix, right?

Whatever your road to get here today, we are so proud of you, and I welcome you to the healthcare team, or the next journey before you. In a recent interview with TWU, I was asked “What is your favorite thing about being a dietitian?” I have a lot of favorite things about being a dietitian. First of all, the mere scope of nutrition is ripe with opportunities. Everyone needs nutrition to survive, just like air and water. But unlike air and water, human nutrition offers so many choices to the human spirit, multiple times a day. We use food to communicate, celebrate, show love, define our cultural identity, exert independence, and improve our bodies for wellness. What more powerful field is there that combines art, culture, emotion, science, health, and our environment? What other field has such potential and relevance to connect a daily human experience with our economy, our world, animals, plants, soil, and each other? The field of nutrition is big.   That’s what I like about it; all that potential. I hope as you all move forward in your careers, you incorporate the importance of your patient’s and loved one’s nutrition and well-being in their daily lives, as well as your own!

I challenge you to find similar relevance and passion for your chosen field today. This passion will ignite you to the next phase of your career and life experience.

Now, this wouldn’t be a proper commencement address without some words of advice. I have learned a lot in my years since sitting in those chairs, and I want to be sure I give you a sneak peek or fast forward view to save you some time, frustration and heartache. I still have a lot to learn, but these things I’m about to share, I’m 100% sure of.

  1. Make time to make and keep friends. I promise this is going to be your greatest buffer against anything life is going to throw at you. It is not enough to have your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, children, family to attenuate your life experiences. You are going to need girlfriends and guy friends to cushion the blows that you will undoubtedly encounter. In addition, these friends are going to keep you current with a side of life many of your contemporaries miss altogether. Plan group trips. Be the instigator to schedule monthly dinners, card games or bar nights. I can absolutely promise you, you are going to need these friendships to connect you to reality, center you, and keep you healthy.
  2. Have a goal, have a vision. Write it, or depict it in a picture that you revisit at least once a year. My personal vision map is a tree, with all the branches of my life such as profession, education, travel, personal health and family. Each year I redraw the tree and evaluate what branches need more leaves added for the coming year. As you do this, what is needed to rebalance your life experience? Where do you need more leaves? Where can you prune some areas for new growth?
  3. Evaluate yourself at least once a year. Feel your cycle. Are you most motivated and inspired at the beginning of January? How about when fall is in the air? Or when spring’s first buds break? Harness this personal power flow to propel you; you’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish when you’re “feelin’ it.”
  4. Get a financial advisor. Now. Like, Monday. This is the most important advice I wish I could go back in time and take myself. No matter your finances, find a financial advisor who you get to know and who will take the time to evaluate your whole wealth. This includes your debt and insurance and possessions. My financial advisor made changes to my insurance coverage, and two weeks later I was hit by another driver, and the small changes she made saved me thousands. You will know you’ve found the right advisor when you’re so comfortable with them that you’re having dinner together and considering them a friend.
  5. Don’t lose sight of you. Let the inspiration for QUIET time strike you.   Quiet yourself when you need it. You will know, because you will feel overwhelmed. You will feel as though you are going through the motions. You will feel despair. At these times, you need to find a quiet time to shake off the entire world and re-center. I’m not sure what your center will feel like for you, but you will know when you find it. You’ll know when you feel it. Some call it following your gut, your heart, or other vital organ, but you will feel firm, resolved, calm. THIS is the place from which you must make your decisions.  
  6. Visit one foreign country a year.
  7. Go everywhere and do everything. I did the shotgun approach at my first job. I volunteered for every project I could at work. Strategically place yourself in projects that your institution finds valuable. Put in the extra time. Those late nights or early mornings at work are going to pay off. People notice. Not all people, but the right people will. And believe in yourself. Being the newbie is a blessed and unique form of naiveté and enthusiasm that the RIGHT people are going to notice.
  8. Most importantly, find joy in every day. In every achievement, wiggle with pride and excitement. Don’t let humility fend off compliments; accept them and say thank you. Be truly amazed by the everyday joy we sometimes take for granted. But in all situations, say thank you, be grateful, and always lift others up. We are ALL in a position to brighten another’s day, and you never know what effects your kind words, encouragement, time or attention can bring. The smallest gesture can be the one that person talks about for years to come, remembering you as someone who changed the course of their life.

Graduates, you are about to set forth on the most exciting section of your life. Texas Woman’s University has prepared you well; you have a rich history and family of alumni to draw from. Nursing celebrates its 60th anniversary at TWU this year. Music Department celebrates its 100 year anniversary. The Nutrition PhD program is the oldest in Texas. As of today, you are now woven into this rich fabric of history, tradition and honor. Make us proud. Find other alumni in your adventures; I know I have found TWU alumna in the highest levels of the Department of Defense and Department of Agriculture.

No matter what we all have experienced in our past, today is the beginning of your next adventure. Find your center, shake off the world, wiggle with happiness, maintain your friends, and truly burst forth onto the scene of your own creation. I congratulate you on your accomplishments, and we all support you as we pursue a healthy and promoted life.

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TWU Commencement Address, May 2015 – Laura Estrada

Laura Estrada,  1974, Radio and Television, is President and Owner, Garza Business Services, Inc. Dallas and is a TWU Distinguished Alumna

THANK YOU SO MUCH…….. CHANCELLOR FEYTEN…………… REGENTS WILSON AND FARIAS…….. DISTINGUISHED FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATORS…….PARENTS, FRIENDS AND FAMILY,  AND OF COURSE, ALL OF YOU…….THE GRADUATING CLASS OF 2015!

IT IS AN HONOR TO BE WITH YOU TODAY.

I AM PROUD TO SAY TWU IS THE UNIVERSITY WHO PRESENTED ME MY COLLEGE DIPLOMA.  I GRADUATED WITH A DEGREE IN RADIO AND TELEVISION. BACK THEN, IT WAS A VERY NEW DEGREE, SO NOT VERY MANY STUDENTS WERE MAJORING IN RADIO AND TV.

AS A MATTER OF FACT, I WAS THE ONLY GRADUATE WITH THAT SPECIALTY THE YEAR I GRADUATED. SO……. I TOLD MY PARENTS I WAS NUMBER ONE IN MY CLASS! NUMERO UNO!!

(((( TAKE OFF MY SCARF ))))

I LOVE SCARVES. IT’S KIND OF MY SIGNATURE.  SCARVES HAVE SPECIAL MEANINGS…….WELL, AT LEAST TO ME THEY DO!

((( WAVE SCARF ))))

SCARVES GLIDE……THEY WAVE IN THE BREEZE…….THEY PROVIDE PROTECTION…..AS YOU STEP INTO THE NEXT CHAPTER OF YOUR LIVES…..I HOPE IT’S A BREEZE, AND I HOPE IT’S SMOOTH-SAILING FOR YOU. AND MAY YOU BE WELL-SECURED AND PROTECTED IN THE FUTURE.

((( TWIST SCARF INTO A KNOT )))

AH, BUT SOMETIMES THINGS MIGHT NOT GO SO WELL FOR YOU. YOUR SCARF MAY GET INTO A KNOT. THIS WILL HAPPEN. IT’S THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE. SO WHEN YOUR LIFE GETS INTO A KNOT, I SUGGEST YOU ADDRESS THE SITUATION. FACE IT HEAD ON, FIND CLOSURE, AND MOVE ON!  LIFE IS TOO SHORT. GET RID OF THE KNOTS IN YOUR SCARF!

INSTEAD, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS…… VALUE YOUR LOVED ONES……. AND MOVE ON. AND, MOVE ON WITH YOUR HEAD HELD HIGH!

LET ME SHARE WITH YOU A FEW THINGS I’VE COME ACROSS OVER THE YEARS.  A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE TAUGHT ME EARLY ON TO CHOOSE MY AUDIENCE CAREFULLY.  WHO YOU CHOOSE TO ASSOCIATE WITH MATTERS.

MY FIREND WOULD SAY, LAURA, BAD THINGS SURROUNDING YOU ARE BAD SEEDS;  GOOD THINGS SURROUNDING YOU ARE GOOD SEEDS. O-K, I SAID.  BELIEVE ME, THESE SEEDS CAN GROW, SO YOU DON’T WANT A LOT OF BAD SEEDS GROWING IN YOUR AUDIENCE. LIFE IS PRECIOUS. DON’T WASTE IT ON BAD SEEDS.  CHOOSE YOUR AUDIENCE CAREFULLY, BECAUSE WHO YOU CHOOSE WILL MATTER FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES.

HERE’S SOMETHING YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF: THE FIRST IMPRESSSION.  IN THIS SMALL AMOUNT OF TIME I HAVE BEEN HERE ON STAGE, YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE  A JUDGEMENT OF ME. STUDIES TELL US THAT IN THE FIRST MINUTE, PERCEPTIONS ARE MADE  THAT MAY NEVER CHANGE.  BE AWARE OF THIS.  MAKING JUDGEMENTS IS WHAT HUMANS DO, SO PREPARE YOURSELF TO HAVE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION

BE A GREAT ONE!

THIS TAKES PRACTICE! IN BUSINESS, THE FIRST MINUTE OF CONTACT WILL LEAD TO MORE CONVERSATION – OR NOT.  IF YOU DON’T GET PAST THAT FIRST MINUTE, YOU DON’T GET THE NEXT FIFTEEN.  SO PREPARE FOR THAT FIRST MINUTE……. AND MAKE A GREAT IMPRESSION.

YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS SELLING RADIO, A NEW SALES MANAGER WAS HIRED.  HE GATHERED ALL OF US IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM AND SAID THE USUAL SALES MANAGER SPEECH: MAKE YOUR QUOTAS, DON’T OVER-EXCEED ON YOUR EXPENSE ACCOUNT, ETC, ETC, ETC.  AND…… AS HE WAS ABOUT TO DISMISS US……… HE SAID ONE LAST THING:  AS YOU WORK FOR THIS COMPANY, I WANT YOU TO “DO WHAT IS RIGHT”.

THERE WAS TOTAL SILENCE IN THE ROOM.

FOUR WORDS HE SAID – FOUR POWERFUL WORDS: DO WHAT IS RIGHT.  IT SOUNDS VERY SIMPLE…. BUT IT CAN BE DIFFICULT AT TIMES. YOU ARE GOING TO BE FACED WITH UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS; DIFFICULT DECISIONS TO BE MADE. THERE WILL BE TIMES WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO GET THAT FEELING DEEP DOWN IN YOUR GUT THAT SAYS “AM I DOING THE RIGHT THING”?

THAT’S WHEN YOU SAY TO YOURSELF THOSE FOUR WORDS: DO WHAT IS RIGHT.  TRUST YOUR GUT. DO WHAT IS RIGHT.

LET ME LEAVE YOU WITH SOME QUICK TIPS. SOME OF THESE JUST MAY RESONATE WITH YOU.  I’LL RUN THROUGH THEM QUICKLY…….. THEY ARE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

SO HERE WE GO:

  1. LEARN TO KEEP A SECRET. ONCE YOU CAN KEEP A SECRET, YOU WILL HEAR MANY.
  1. LEARN TO NEGOCIATE. YOU WILL NEGOCIATE DAILY WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT, SO LEARN TO NEGOCIATE.
  1. BELIEVE IN SELF-SUFFICIENCY. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF.
  1. EMBRACE CHANGE. BE OPEN AND FLEXIBLE IN ORDER TO EMBRACE CHANGE. IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN, SO EMBRACE IT.
  1. ALWAYS GET IT IN WRITING.
  1. YOU CAN NOT PLEASE ALL THE PEOPLE, ALL THE TIME. ACCEPT THIS FACT AND MOVE ON.
  1. THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS IN LIFE.
  1. BE CAREFUL OF SOCIAL MEDIA. IT’S POWERFUL, BOTH GOOD AND BAD.
  1. SPLURGE ON “EXPERIENCES” INSTEAD OF MATERIAL THINGS.
  1. YOU’VE HEARD THE SAYING “OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS”.   NOOOO, IT DOESN’T ALWAYS KNOCK.  SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE, BANG DOWN THE DOOR, AND SAY “I’M HERE”!

CLASS OF 2015: IT’S BEEN A PLEASURE TO BE WITH YOU TODAY.  I WISH YOU THE BEST IN THE FUTURE. YOU ARE THE FUTURE.  SMILE WIDE and SMILE OFTEN.

AND ESPECIALLY TODAY……DON’T FORGET TO HUG YOUR PARENTS.

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TWU Commencement Address, May 2015 – De’Edra Williams

De’Edra S. Williams, 1990, Fashion Merchandising, is Customer Services Director for Salesforce.com    

Thank you Dr. Feyten, the TWU Regents, Administration and Faculty and friends and family of the graduates. Thank you to my dear friend Sharon Venable, TWU’s former Corporate and Community Relations Executive and current CEO of the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations. And, most importantly, congratulations to the TWU graduates of 2015 – Bravo to each of you!

I am so honored and humbled to be here today, honored because as an alumna, I have such pride in my alma mater. Humble, because when I emailed my friends of this honor, one replied “Congrats, so they called you after Michelle Obama turned them down.”

So, for those of you who were expecting Michelle Obama, you’ll get over it!

With that said, I envy you. Today, each of you is about to embark upon a marvelous journey and the passport to that journey is your TWU degree and your unique experiences. And, I want you to embrace these adventures. And, I encourage you to enjoy every moment of it.

I’m going to start with why I envy you and how a TWU education will shape your future. I envy the journey you are about to take, your career, your friends and family, the highs, the lows and the experiences that will define your life. And, really, the journey started the day that you stepped onto this campus.

I remember my first day, as a Fashion Merchandising major; I started that day with a sense of optimism. And, like so many of you, I chose TWU because I knew that I would be afforded an experience that has guided me through my life’s journey and continues to do so, even today.

I want to share two very unique experiences from my time at TWU.

The first happened during my honors history courses. At the end of each semester, the professor would invite us to her home for a themed party. At a 1960’s dinner, we dressed in 60’s fashion and watched “The Graduate,” evoking a discussion around societal taboos and parental influence—issues that resonated deeply for me as a 20 year-old woman in a male-dominated society.

Now to many of you, this event may sound like a mundane endeavor, but it sparked a love of history, and, taught me valuable critical thinking skills and an insatiable appetite for discourse that served me quite well during my MBA program at UTD and makes me an invaluable resource in my role as a Customer Success Director at Salesforce.com.

The second experience was during my senior year. One of my merchandising professors secured an interview for me at a high-profile boutique. With his coaching, I aced the interview, and they made me an offer on the spot. However, when we started the salary discussion, they informed me that it would be an unpaid position. Well, as a

student who at one point worked two jobs and subsisted on student loans, I could not afford to take an unpaid position, no matter how prestigious it might have been. So, I declined the offer.

I was disappointed, that my professor had worked so hard to secure the interview and I dreaded informing him of my decision. But, you know what he said, he said De’Edra, “Never work for free.”

And, this lesson has stuck with me to this day. When I was in negotiations with one of my former employers, their initial salary offering was below what I had requested and I turned it down. They not only came back with a higher salary, but a total compensation package that was beyond my wildest dreams.

I relay these experiences because TWU will continue to nurture you in the future as it has while you were on campus. I want you to leverage the students and faculty that helped you along your academic journey. Use your passport—your TWU degree—to reach out to these tour guides who can continue to help embrace you along your journey.

They are the spark to ignite your professional networks. They will help you along your journey, and you will help them. Like each of you, they chose TWU, and this makes them uniquely empowered to help you succeed.

Since graduating 25 years ago, there is not a day that I am not grateful for TWU and each of you should be grateful and use this gratitude to embark upon a journey that not only enables your own success but the success of others.

Speaking of helping others, this is the point in the speech where I am supposed to impart some salient bits of wisdom, advice to guide you on the journey. Here are four pieces of advice that will help you along your path.

First and foremost, own your journey. Each of you is a wise soul; you made a conscious decision to invest in your education, and you chose TWU. It is the most valuable resource you will ever possess, so own it.

Second, I want you to enjoy life – have a moment of bliss every day. And yes, your career, your family and friends are important, but, have that moment of bliss for you and share those moments with anyone who will listen. Believe me; everyone can use a little “bliss” in their life, so share yours.

Third, embrace who you are. As a small town girl from Louisiana, stepping on the TWU campus was like traveling to another world. But it was a world that allowed me to thrive, and I have carried that confidence and chutzpah throughout my career.

Here’s an example of how believing in myself worked for me. On my first day with Salesforce, I stood up in front of the entire new hire class of 200+ employees and asked, “What does it take to get a Sassy?” For those of you not familiar with Salesforce, our mascot is Sassy, [put a sassy doll on the podium] Now that took chutzpah. One because it was my first day and two, it’s my quirky personality that happens to love stuffed toys. But, what was the result? I ended up winning the new hire “Rising Staraward and the Salesforce “Top Gun” award, two of the highest honors a new hire can receive. And, obviously, I got a Sassy. Those successes came because I embraced my unique personality, and it took chutzpah to do it.

And, Fourth, help others on each path of your journey.

You guys may have heard of Sheryl Sanburg who caused quite a revolution, when she encouraged women to “lean in”.

And, yes, I want each of you, both women and men to lean in. But, more importantly, I want you to “reach back.” Use this passport that is your diploma to take others along on this journey. Use your degree to impart your wisdom. Learn how you can help others along this extraordinary adventure. Volunteer to mentor, sit on boards and speak at conferences whenever you are asked. When someone less senior than yourself asks for your help, go above and beyond to assist.

Again, I want to thank you for affording me the opportunity to address you. And, don’t forget to embrace this adventure that you are about to embark upon, enjoy every moment of it and encourage others to join you along the way.

So once more, bravo to the TWU class of 2015. I wish each you much joy and happiness along your journey. Have a fabulous trip.

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