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Na Li

First of Many

Making history never crossed Na Li’s mind when she arrived at UT Arlington in 2007 to pursue a doctoral degree in computer science engineering. But the China native now holds a singular designation: She is the first Maverick to graduate in College Park Center.

“I was honored and excited about being the first to walk across the stage,” she says. “It was also very rewarding to get through the tunnel and successfully complete the Ph.D. program after five years of hard work.”

Spring 2012 graduation exercises were groundbreaking not only for being the first in College Park Center, the University’s 7,000-seat events showpiece that opened in February to rave reviews. The ceremonies also featured a record number of graduates.

UT Arlington conferred more than 4,400 degrees, an increase of about 700 from May 2011. The total included 3,000 undergraduates, 1,309 master’s candidates, and 97 doctoral scholars.

“Half of the spring 2012 graduates were the first in their family to earn a college degree,” UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo said. “Imagine the doors they’ve opened with their resiliency and determination. Imagine the lessons they’ve learned about themselves and what they can achieve. And imagine where they’re going.”

Dr. Li plans to work in academia; her dissertation focused on privacy and security issues in online and mobile social networks. Inspired by her mother, a high school teacher, Li has dreamed of becoming a college professor since she was a child. She taught a freshman-level programming course last fall and mentored undergraduate students in a National Science Foundation-funded research program.

“These experiences let me see clearly what I am passionate about,” she says. “I am convinced that I should try to realize my dream.”

Spring 2012 commencement exercises were groundbreaking not only for being the first in held College Park Center. They also featured a record 4,400 graduates, an increase of about 700 from May 2011. For the entire 2011-12 academic year, UT Arlington conferred an all-time high of 9,052 degrees.