The Economics Department

2019 Commencement Speech-Live The Dash

Thu, May 30, 2019
2019 Commencement Speech-Live The Dash
2019 Commencement Speaker-Amy Villarreal


Amy Villareal was the commencement speaker for the Department of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin on Saturday, May 25, 2019.

Please see below for a transcript of her keynote speech. For a copy of her speech, please click on the link.   


Dr. Abrevaya, honorable members of the faculty, graduates and parents I am honored to be here. Congratulations to all the parents… as the proud mother of a recent graduate and a mother to a rising senior here at UT…I know how much you helped these graduates and how proud you are.

And, class of 2019—congratulations! I am so excited for you as the economy is strong and jobs are plentiful. Your generation are hard workers and I look forward to working alongside you.

When Dr. Abrevaya invited me to do this, I was caught completely off guard. My career is behind the camera and it is much easier for me to produce an award-winning video than to stand here and speak to all of you. Then I imagined all of you—at nine o’clock in the morning on a Saturday staring up here at me. So, this will not be a minute thirty news package but we will keep it close.

Today is a huge accomplishment and you should be incredibly proud. You are graduating from one of the best universities in the country in the best city in the country with a degree in Economics.

Now that I have been out of college for a few years and have had some time to reflect on life I thought I would share a few words of wisdom.

Live the Dash
Yes, that dash between when you were born and when you die. It is just a dash on paper but what you do with this time is what makes your life. I really do believe that you must live life to the fullest, travel, laugh hard, work hard, be kind, eat tacos, give back, love fiercely, be honorable. You get to decide what that dash is what makes your life.

I really do believe that you must live life to the fullest, travel, laugh hard, work hard, be kind, eat tacos, give back, love fiercely, be honorable. You get to decide what that dash is about so don’t sweat the small stuff.

Recently the New York Times was talking about my generation ….. the Gen Xers. The social editor was commenting that my generation did not invent anything great.. just blogging. I don’t know if that is something to proud of. However, our legacy will be that we are the parents of you the Zers. You seem cool, technologically savvy, open-minded and the most diverse generation in US history. You have a wider variety of career choices than your parents’ generation so make good decisions for yourself and create your path to success and do not forget to live the dash.

Change is the only constant
Do not fear change…. Embrace it. Change is the only constant and once you truly understand it the easier your life will be. I started at The University of Texas as an Architectural Engineer. My freshman year I realized that after taking an Economics class that something sparked an interest in me. I changed majors and full steam ahead with no regrets. I am sure some of you have a similar story of your path to how you are sitting here today.
So, as you go out and find your way embrace change. Work for new solutions and new ideas that can change how we do things. You have the skill set to handle this.

Trust me.. you have grown up during a time of rapid change. Everyone in your generation has grown up with laptops, game systems and cell phones. You have grown accustomed to instant gratification as you can learn/obtain/search or swipe for anything at any time with the cell phone in your pocket right now.
With this degree, you have the analytical skills to disrupt the way we do things and to continue to evolve how we do things. As they say at Texas, you learned to think big…Go Change the World.

And my final takeaway is to be resilient
This is my favorite adjective to use to describe myself. I am proof that you should not be afraid to pursue a passion that may at first seem not what you had thought you had studied for because you will be surprised at the critical keys to success this degree has given you.

Learn to be resilient. This seems like something that is not that big of a deal… but it is. You will be faced with many decisions and situations throughout your life. The ability to zig to the zag when things are not going right and you need to be able to understand why it is happening. Remember that because life is this amazing rollercoaster and you will need to use these skills more than you know. Trust me.

My path to television at first seems nontraditional for this degree but I know now that Economics prepared me to be great at this job. Your first job will likely not be for the company that you work for the rest of your life for. And that is okay. The road is not always straight. Your first job may not even be in the field you end up loving… that is okay. Keep trying and experimenting until you find what you love.

I remember that it was about 3 months into my first television job that I realized I loved what I was doing. I wanted to run and own television stations so I found a great mentor, who happened to be a UT grad, that took my passion for where I wanted to go seriously and I worked really hard to make it. There are not a lot of women in my position as media is a very male dominated industry. I did not let that stop me and I was given my first television station to run when I was 29 years old. I won my first Emmy last year and 20 years this month, I still wake up every day wanting to go to work to run television stations where I get to create content on all platforms that help keep people informed and entertained. When you love what you do it is not work and if you work hard money will follow.

So, work hard, find your passion, don’t be afraid to keep trying things until you find “it” and don’t be afraid to fail to succeed.
Now look around... look at your awesome robe, your family in the stands and the great classmates around you. You have spent years of hard work to get to this day so breathe and take it all in.

Congratulations Class of 2019 and Hook’em!

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