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College of Education Teacher Pinning Ceremony

May 11, 2017

Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen – It’s a pleasure to be with you today as we honor the achievements of our students and pay tribute to their choice of a career.

At universities we celebrate the success of our students in many ways, with the attainment of a milestone such as graduation being a landmark event because it signifies the crossing of a threshold from student to a learned member and leader of society. Tomorrow we will join in congratulating you as your degrees are conferred in a time-honored ceremony, but right now we honor you for perhaps much more than just that piece of paper – the diploma or teaching certification. We honor you through a ceremony that is new to the University of Texas at Arlington – the teacher pinning ceremony that symbolizes another milestone. You are about to go forth into the teaching profession where you will not only have an impact on the community through your work, like most of your fellow graduates, but in addition you will an undeniable influence on the future – through the students you will be teaching.

You will essentially be molding the lives of our children and our youth.  In doing so, your actions effectively will determine the socio-economic well-being of the communities in which you serve through the intellects you develop and the characters you build. And, yes, while we all talk about the role our graduates play as doctors, engineers, politicians, captains of industry and health care providers – each of those successes we extol starts with a great education and inspiration provided by a teacher. Without teachers none of the other successes would be possible.

I have a deep level of admiration for teachers at all levels. You lay the foundation that sets up the rest of a person’s life. Through the work that you do in classrooms and through your interactions with children, you direct the trajectory of their lives. You not only teach subject matter, be it English or history or mathematics or a range of other subjects, but you also inspire curiosity and build a love of learning. You have the power to light within each student that spark that provides motivation and drive, the action that can set in motion the discovery of a cure for a disease considered incurable, or a technology that will revolutionize the way we live, or the mind that creates beautiful music. As teachers you will recognize that glimmer of talent and you will tend it, nurture it and grow it, until that child has the ability to change the world.

Teacher certification signifies more than just having knowledge. It means that you have demonstrated the competency needed to be a teacher, to be allowed the awesome responsibility of molding young minds and, through that, ensuring the vitality of our future. It signifies the trust that we place in your hands and the faith we have in each of you to make a difference, to do your very best to light a spark in each child who crosses your path and to ensure that you set them up for success in life.

As you cross this threshold and as we get ready to honor each of you for your commitment, your dedication to a cause – for teaching is not just a career, it is a calling and it carries with it great responsibility – I’d like you to join me in remembering all the teachers who have helped you, both in this room and outside, and recognizing the critical role that they have played in your lives through a round of applause.

It is my hope that in a few short years, groups of students, parents and community leaders will do the same for you as you start leaving your footprints on the sands of time through the lives you touch and direct towards success. Through this ceremony today we honor the past, we celebrate the present and we look forward to a tremendous future – one that you will play a role in defining and crafting.

So let me end by thanking you for your commitment and dedication, congratulating you on your achievement of this milestone and wishing you all the very best as you take the first steps in a career that perhaps more than any other will determine our future as a community, as a state and as a nation. I look forward to the day when we will welcome your students to this great institution and continue building on the talent you have molded.  You have my admiration and respect – Good luck and God Speed.