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Congratulations, Class of 2009

The University of Texas at Arlington celebrates our spring 2009 graduating class as 2,820 candidates are invited to cross the Texas Hall stage through May 18 to claim their degrees.

The group represents UT Arlington’s largest spring graduating class in recent history and a 21 percent increase in the number of undergraduates earning their degrees from spring 2008.

Commencement ceremonies also will honor 685 students who have earned master’s degrees and 51 who have achieved doctoral degrees. UT Arlington’s School of Urban and Public Affairs awarded its largest number of master’s degrees this spring with 86.

President James D. Spaniolo congratulates each UT Arlington graduate and urges students, family and supporters to participate in commencement ceremonies scheduled through the weekend.

"We applaud your success in the classroom and propel you onward to a full and productive life. We see your accomplishments as students and contemplate what you still can achieve," Spaniolo said. "You remind us that Mavericks push themselves to the limits, because they’re the only ones who get to define those limits."

Friday night's Graduation Celebration brings the Class of 2009 together with friends, family and the UT Arlington community at Maverick Stadium to further honor graduates' achievements. The event includes a keynote speech by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, a former Texas Secretary of State, fireworks and music.

Kirk urges 2009 UT Arlington graduates to engage, give of themselves

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk challenged UT Arlington graduates Friday to get involved in their communities and to get engaged intellectually in whatever they pursue.

Ambassador Kirk, a former Dallas mayor and Texas Secretary of State, delivered the keynote speech at Graduation Celebration, the Maverick Stadium event honoring the Class of 2009.

President Obama named Kirk his trade representative in December 2008. The Senate confirmed Kirk’s appointment in March, and the ambassador has been on the go ever since.

Joining Kirk on the platform were UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo; UT Arlington Provost Donald Bobbitt, UT System Regent Printice Gary; Emily Hoad, president of the UT Arlington Alumni Association; and Jorge Callado, the graduate chosen to represent the Class of 2009 at this year’s event.

Callado, a College of Business graduate with a 4.0 GPA, told hundreds of students and their supporters how his mother brought him to the United States from Mexico in search of a better life. Now both are citizens, and Callado is leaving soon for Seattle and a job with Microsoft.

“I feel blessed, really extra blessed, to be receiving my UT Arlington diploma,” Callado said, thanking his mother for sacrificing so that he could pursue his education. “I don’t think I’d be here today if it weren’t for the hard work and choices my mom made. … I’m grateful to this country and to this university.”

Here’s a sampling of what Kirk told the graduates:

Become engaged. “Your first job when you leave UT Arlington may not be to negotiate multilateral trade deals. But if you want to do business in the world, you should leave this place with a firm intention to engage the world yourself. Engage intellectually, engage culturally, engage morally, and engage your brothers and sisters around the world spiritually.”

On the value of reading: “Through the miracles of technology, there’s more reading material and information available to you than to any generation before. The challenge now is to make sure that reading expands your world, gets outside of your biases. … Read outside the lines.”

Travel and the importance of speaking other languages: Traveling is essential to success in life because it is truly a complex world, Kirk said. He also encouraged graduates to be multi-lingual, adding: “If a person speaks more than two languages, that person is considered multi-lingual. If he or she speaks two languages, then that person is considered bilingual. If the person speaks one language, the person is an American.”

Discovering the joys of personal philanthropy: “Learn the fulfillment of giving of yourself. My mother always says to me, “If you have anything at all, you have something to share.”

Choosing action over words: “Speaking well and writing well are important skills. But acting in the pursuit of positive change is what will make your engagement count.”

“Appreciate the power of your own genius.” Kirk told graduates to never underestimate the power to bring about change through engagement. “The world in which we live has been made far richer, fairer and more equitable for all of us because people of faith, good will and values have taken it upon themselves to make it so. … So don’t play small. Get out there with what you’ve got and engage at every turn.”