Discurso de Renu Khator durante la Cuadragésima Séptima Ceremonia del Comienzo

'Tener un sueño, encontrar pasión por tu sueño y tener humildad', son tres lecciones de vida que nos dejó Renu Khator, Presidenta de la Universidad de Houston e invitada especial en la Cuadragésima Séptima Ceremonia del Comienzo 2018. Su discurso inspiró a más de uno convirtiendo a la ceremonia en una experiencia inolvidable para todos los graduados y sus familias en la Universidad San Francisco de Quito.

Discurso de Renu Khator: 
"Thank you, Chancellor Gangotena, for your invitation to deliver the graduation address this evening, and for your very kind introduction. ¡Congratulations, graduates, and greetings to everyone in attendance! 

It is a pleasure to be with you in your beautiful country, Ecuador, and this magical city of Quito. I was here 18 months ago visiting the city and the Galápagos, and instantly fell in love with the beauty of the nature and the kindness of the people. 

I am humbled and honored to be here today to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates, but also to celebrate the love and support shown by their families and the guidance and mentorship offered by their faculty. ¡It truly takes a village to get to this milestone and you all have done it! 

Graduates, today is your day! Today ends a journey—the journey of formal learning, of taking notes and sitting in exams, but today starts yet another journey—a journey of finding your place in the world, of harnessing your power, of testing your limits, and of making this world a better place. Your journey, like the journey of graduates before you, will have ups and downs, hills and valleys, twists and turns, but it will be your journey. 

In preparation for today’s remarks, I had to think about what will be short, but meaningful to you. Of course, I could give you some advice, but you don’t need it... you have done very well without it. I could give you a lecture about “dos” and “don’ts” in life, but then you have had enough lectures during the course of your studies. So, I decided to share the lessons that I have learned from my journey of life in the hope that you may find some nuggets of wisdom or something meaningful. 

We all have our own journey, and mine started in Kanpur, a very small town in India. There was no expectation from me to have a job, to build a career, or even to have education beyond what was necessary to find a good husband. However, here I am today, standing on this platform as chancellor of one of the largest and fastest growing research universities in the United States. The twists and turns of this journey have taught me three lessons that I would like to share with you. 

Lesson Number One: Have a dream. Your dream may be small, or big, or one that people may think it’s crazy... but have a dream, because dreams have power. Dreams create their own energy. When John F. Kennedy said we will put a man on the Moon, people thought he was crazy. When Mahatma Gandhi said he will force the British to leave India, without lifting a weapon, people thought he had gone mad. But their crazy, mad dreams changed the course of history. 

My dream was a small one in comparison, but crazy nonetheless, and it helped change the course of my life. My dream was to get an education, to earn the highest educational degree possible. The only problem was that I was being raised in a time and place where education for girls was considered an after-thought. But I loved school, I loved learning, and I surely loved lectures, even boring ones. I was 18 years old when I finished my bachelor’s degree from an all-girls college and wanted to pursue my master’s degree, but there was no such program in my college. My father was not inclined to send me away from home.

After a lot of pleading and arguing, my father agreed to send me to Allahabad University, 200 miles away from home. I was ecstatic, but the joy lasted for less than a year. My father arranged my marriage to a young man who was studying in the United States. Within ten days, I was married and sent off with a man I did not know, to a country I knew little about, and to live among people whose language I did not understand. 

I cried and then cried some more, always thinking that my life was over. But, my husband took me to Purdue University, where he was also a doctoral student, to meet with an advisor. Imagine this scene—I was 18 years old, wrapped in an Indian saree, speaking only in Hindi, and pleading to get admission to master’s program. My husband was serving as translator, adding additional emotions to try to get me in school. Needless to say, the advisor was amused. He first declined, but then gave in to my request with strict guidelines, “No admission, no promise, but I will let you sit in two courses and we will talk at the end of the semester.” He was sure he would never see me again... but he did. I taught myself English watching television, worked harder than I thought possible, and at the end of the semester, I got both As. And I was in. 

And this brings me to Lesson Number Two: Find passion for your dreams. Dreams without passion are fantasies, but dreams with passion are destiny. Passion fuels our dreams and does not let us quit when the times are tough and doors are shut. Being “in” the school was one thing, but graduating from it was another. There was a tough road ahead. I had to read every page 4 times... I had to write every assignment 8 times, but I was not going to quit. My passion had turned into obsession and 18 months later, I finished my master’s degree, but my dream continued. A few years later with two little daughters—3 year old and 1 year old—I returned to school to complete my Ph.D. And as they say, the rest is history. 

My dream was a small one, but people have had big dreams and have fulfilled them with passion. Thomas Edison is known to have failed 9,999 times before perfecting the light bulb. For him, he did not fail even one time... he had found 9,999 ways of inventing light bulb differently. I am sure you have eaten at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Here is another story of passion and perseverance... the story of Colonel Sanders who went to 1,007 restaurants trying to sell them his mother’s fried chicken recipe before one finally said yes. And I know many of you have been to, or want to go to, Disney World in Florida. Did you know Walt Disney was fired from job after job, sometime, the reason given was that he lacked of imagination? ThomasEdisonorColonelSandersorWaltDisney,theyall tried, they all failed and they all succeeded. Why? Because they did not quit... their passion did not let them give up their dreams. So, have a dream and remember to fuel it with passion! 

This brings me to Lesson Number Three: Have humility, and always remember that no one ever travels his or her journey of success alone. Each journey is full of people who serve as mentors, friends, companions, critics... and they all play an important role in one’s success. For me, it was my mother, first and foremost, who treated me just the same as she treated my brother. When it came to her children, she was gender-blind in a male-biased society. She expected the same hunger for excellence from me as from my brother. She expected me to put my heart and soul in no matter what I did. I can honestly say that I try to live up to her expectations every day, even when she is not with me anymore. And then, of course, I am indebted to my husband who read those pages for me when I could not read, who patiently critiqued my homework when I could not properly write, but most of all who took 2 and 3 jobs to pay for my tuition to keep me in school. He is here with us today and would you please help me recognize him? 

During my journey, I was mentored by many other people, some formally and some informally. There were those who shared my joy when I achieved something no matter how small and those who wiped my tears when I failed no matter how bad. While I am filled with gratitude, the feeling does not end here. The realization that so many people have been part of my journey fills me with this sense of obligation that I need to be part of other people’s journeys. I need to help others succeed... I need to help others achieve their dreams. 

You, graduates, have been successful in your scholarly journeys. If you take nothing else from me today, just remember this one thing. Make a pledge that you will always remain humble and that you will always share your success, your happiness and your good fortune with others. Pledge that you will try to be part of other people’s journey and that you will always be grateful to those who have been part of yours. 

The world is awaiting your leadership. There are no limits to your dreams and there are no boundaries around your passion. Go and prove yourselves as graduates of La Universidad San Francisco de Quito. I wish you well. ¡Congratulations!

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