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Congratulations, the School Year is Over

Congratulations, the School Year is Over

Make a difference out in the world.


Dear students,

At the CNS commencement ceremony, alumnus Dan Graham (Computer Science, '03) spoke to the class and recalled a well-known quotation from author and playwright George Bernard Shaw: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." Leading up to college, we all do reasonable things, we study in school, work for good grades, take the SAT, apply for college. These are all things expected of us, and we did the reasonable thing. From here on out, there is no script, no right or wrong answer for the puzzles life has ahead. The only script is the one we write. Nothing is ever simple, and of course all risks we have to weigh in context, but Shaw's quote reminds us that if we want to envision a world more to our liking or more to our values, we have to be a little bold.

As Dan Graham spoke, I was reminded of a dad's advice to his son in the movie We Bought a Zoo, "sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of courage" and you'll make good things happen. That doesn't mean you'll change the world in 20 seconds, but you might just take the plunge and introduce yourself to a new lifelong friend, take the podium for your first major presentation, smile and shake hands at a first interview, or maybe go river rafting for the first time. Sometimes, we change the course of our own lives, and sometimes we change the course of others' lives without even knowing it. Going out of our way to connect with someone, sharing greetings, or helping someone who is new to a school or neighborhood can have immeasurable impacts. Without our even knowing it, our acts of kindness may provide just the remedy someone around us, even a stranger, really needs. If you think it's not possible, see the TED talk by Drew Dudley on the power of one lollipop.

Each of us has been given many gifts. Each of us is armed with the power to make a difference. As our graduates go out in to the world, I know that they all will do just that.

Best wishes for a great summer,

-- Dr. Kopp

PS: After my last email, a few of you commented about another TED talk I mentioned. My interest with that talk was focused on the subjunctive (possible) vs indicative (present) tense, and the author's challenge to all of us to balance hope vs the appreciation of the here and now. The author said that the Vietnamese language has no subjunctive tense, which some of you noted is not correct. I have to apologize, since I don't know Vietnamese, and intended only to share the message about the attitudes we hold about possibility (future) and the present. I hope I didn't cause any inadvertent offense.

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Saturday, 08 May 2021

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