May 22, 2021
President Jay Harzell's closing remarks for The University of Texas at Austin Spring Commencement 2021 (as delivered)
Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium
Congratulations — it’s official … you are graduates of the University of Texas at Austin.
Graduates, this is a joyous moment at the end of a tough journey. But also a beginning.
You now go forth into the emerging post-pandemic world. How we live, love, work and play is being reshaped before our very eyes. Ours is a world of constant change but more importantly, unparalleled opportunity. Into the world, take not just your degrees, not just the skills and talents you have honed and acquired, not simply the connections you have made or the confidence you have built — but take as well, a sense of what it means to be a Longhorn.
We have learned many things over the last year, endured difficult times and painful conversations. One of the things we have learned is that even when we do not all agree, we still all belong.Look around. Count the mortar boards and tams. Look long enough, and you will lock eyes with more people who you don’t know than those you do. But as Longhorns you are bound together. No matter where you come from, what you believe, or where you go from here, you are part of this great university’s story. My hope is that in each of your hearts, there now exists a corner that is forever Texas, and bathed in burnt orange.
So take the spirit of Texas with you on your journey—a mindset that in some way you are at the frontier, and that great progress is possible, despite the challenges you will face and overcome.
Remember too, the world has plenty of cynics, plenty of naysayers. And, plenty of people who seek to divide us, who believe that winning an argument is more important than finding common ground and causing positive change. Do not add to their ranks. Instead, choose to embrace empathy and optimism. Leverage your talents, education, and resilience in the service of that which matters.
My fellow longhorns, our state of Texas, our city of Austin, and the Forty Acres have shown you what can happen – we can grow, develop, improve, and make a difference. And you’ve been prepared on this campus — the instruction you have received, the connections you have made, the research you have performed, the skills you have acquired and the opportunities you have been afforded equip you to go out and truly change the world.
So choose unity. Choose patience. Choose empathy. Choose optimism. And in doing so, set your sights on the important questions facing our state, our nation and our world.
My fellow Longhorns, you are part of the answer to those questions. It’s your turn to add to the legacies of so many Longhorns who have come before you, who left the world better than they found it.
It is now my honor to ask our regents, faculty, our staff . . . our family and friends — as they are able — to join me in standing for our incredible graduates.
Join me in applauding them, in raising your horns up, as together we salute the next generation of world changers.
Graduates… it starts here. It starts with each of you.
It is your world out there. Go, do great things and change it for the better.