Fall graduates encouraged to embrace inclusion, examine fears

December 16, 2017

UM-Dearborn conferred nearly 750 degrees during two ceremonies on Dec. 16.

 UM-Dearborn Fall 2017 Commencement
UM-Dearborn Fall 2017 Commencement

Continue to advance the inclusive values learned through campus experiences. Examine fears and success will follow.

These were words of advice given to Fall 2017 graduates by keynote speakers Farhan Latif ('05 B.B.A.) and Suneel Gupta ('00 B.B.A.) at UM-Dearborn’s commencement ceremonies on Dec. 16. The university conferred nearly 750 degrees on Saturday, including more than 500 bachelor's degrees, more than 200 graduate degrees and two doctoral degrees.

Gupta, entrepreneur-in-residence with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a visiting scholar at Harvard University, addressed graduates of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Business during the morning ceremony. Gupta—who was instrumental in growing Groupon from start-up to publicly traded company and for founding Rise, a healthcare service that connects professionals to top-quality health professionals—said he’s learned to look long-term, instead of short-term, when it comes to new endeavors.

“In the short term, the scariest thing for us is to fail. But in the long term, the scariest thing for us is to fail to try,” he said.

He said examining fear instead of pushing it away has helped him move past it. Gupta uses a technique he calls, “Play it out,” where he repeatedly asks, “If I mess up, then what?” until he gets to the root of the fear. He encouraged graduates to do the same.

“As you go down the ‘then what?’ list, as you go toward the fears that scare you the most, the probability of those fears happening goes way down,” he said. “Pulling it closer allows you to understand the fear so you can deconstruct it and put the focus back on the thing you are trying to accomplish. Even the most successful people around the country feel fear. I used to think they were biologically immune. But they are just like you and me. They’ve just learned to manage it.”

In the afternoon ceremony, Latif addressed graduates of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters and the College of Education, Health, and Human Services. Latif is president of El-Hibri Foundation who previously led the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, which focused on policy development for pluralism and democracy.

He told graduates that UM-Dearborn’s campus environment shows what’s possible when diversity is valued and leadership nurtures inclusive policies.

“We are an inspiration to the rest of the world,” he said. “I know you can and will continue to advance the values of inclusion in every place you work and live. I can say without a doubt that we, the alumni, and you, the Class of 2017, are the Michigan difference.”

Graduating students Bryce M. Weick and Fatima Y. Abdallah spoke to classmates, families and professors on how UM-Dearborn has shaped their education and the impact the university will have on their future.

Weick, who addressed the afternoon audience, said she’s a first-generation college student. Overcoming obstacles by learning through mistakes—“failing forward”—has been an important part of Weick’s educational process. She advised her fellow graduates to not let the fear of failure hold them back.

“Instead, embrace the opportunity to make mistakes. It will lead to a better and stronger you,” she said. “I encourage you to try something new, knowing that you can fail forward into the next step of your life.”

Abdallah, who spoke at the morning ceremony, said the achievements of the Class of 2017 would not have been possible without the support of the entire UM-Dearborn community.

“What you have given us is the courage to dare, the knowledge to excel and the belief that we can succeed,” she said. “Forever, ‘Go Blue!’”

Over the course of the two ceremonies, Chancellor Daniel Little presented five student awards. These students were recipients of the Chancellor’s Medallion Award in recognition of their strong academic record, quality of character, intellect and integrity:

  • Troy resident Sumer Ghazala, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
  • Wyandotte resident Bryce M. Weick, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
  • Southfield resident William H. Allen, College of Business
  • White Lake resident Kelsey N. Griffin, College of Education, Health, and Human Services
  • Lincoln Park resident Rodolfo Lozano, College of Engineering and Computer Science

View more photos from today's ceremonies.