The University of Texas at Austin
  • In Celebration of the Class of 2014

    Videos by Thomas Humphreys
    Text by Tracy Mueller
    Photos by Marsha Miller
    Published: May 14, 2014

    University of Texas Class of 2014

    Left to right: Nishant Mehta, Jordan Metoyer, Nhat Ho and Jamie Schanbaum. Photos by Marsha Miller.

    Commencement happens every spring (and every fall, for that matter), but the ritual is no less meaningful because of its frequency. Celebrating years of cramming for finals, discovering new passions and bonding with lifelong friends never gets old.

    And when it’s University of Texas at Austin students we’re talking about, the future is even more exciting than what has come before. There’s a reason we say What Starts Here Changes the World.

    It’s impossible to capture all the accomplishments, dreams and personalities of the 8,686 Longhorns graduating this Saturday. But the four stories below are a good start.

    Congratulations to all the graduates and their friends and families. Hook ‘em.

    Jamie Schanbaum
    Human Development and Family Sciences

    Bacterial meningitis took Jamie Schanbaum’s fingers and legs, but it couldn’t stop her from becoming a powerhouse public health advocate, undergraduate researcher and Paralympic cycling champ with two state laws named in her honor. (The most recent bill was also named for Texas A&M University student Nicolis Williams, who died from the disease while living off campus.)

    “Through my classes, I learned how to adapt my emotions to my new life” as an amputee and facing college life, Schanbaum says. “My classes educated me about the biological effects from different emotional tolls (stress, depression, anxiety, social inclusion, confidence, self-esteem, happiness). From these lectures, I was more likely to be able to recognize certain symptoms, categorize my emotions, and in my own way, reap the benefits. I am grateful that I enrolled into this university and took this degree, because I learned who I was within these years at UT.”

    Nhat Ho
    Mechanical Engineering

    Sure, robots are cool. But in Nhat Ho’s hands, one day they could help change people’s lives.

    “I want a future where the disabled, elderly and injured can wear cloth-thin robots to help them in their everyday activities,” says Ho, a mechanical engineering student who worked in the Rehabilitation and Neuromuscular Robotics Lab with assistant professor Ashish Deshpande.

    Ho contributed to a project called the Upper-Body Exoskeleton and can help patients recovering from stroke by assisting them with precise, repetitive motion therapy. (Ho, a basketball fan, also developed an “exo-baller” device intended to isolate a person’s arm movement to train to make the perfect shot. It’s a work in progress.)

    Ho says engineers are already designing effective rehabilitation robots. Now it’s just a matter of the technology and affordability catching up to the ideas.

    Jordan Metoyer
    Urban Studies, Economics

    Jordan Metoyer is intelligent, ambitious and passionate, but she doesn’t belong at UT — at least, that’s what the statistics suggest.

    “Right now all of the statistics show that where you are born and where you are raised will determine where you end up in society,” says the Inglewood, California, native and Truman Scholar.

    But Metoyer doesn’t think geography — or any other factor — should predetermine anyone’s opportunity.

    It’s why she formed a task force to successfully defeat a city council ordinance that would have restricted affordable student housing. It’s why she switched majors from finance to urban studies and economics. And it’s why when she leaves UT she’ll continue her efforts by working as an assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

    Nishant Mehta
    Biomedical Engineering

    When he arrived at UT, Nishant Mehta was sure he wanted to be a doctor. But after joining Professor George Georgiou’s protein engineering lab, his aspirations found a new home in biomedical engineering.

    By his junior year he had worked with a graduate student to invent a special kind of protein that could bolster cancer treatment. As a senior, Mehta joined classmates in the Longhorn Startup Lab to found a lab materials company. They have pitched to top investors, including Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban, and already have seed funding.

    “I think that by far the best way to learn is by doing,” says Mehta. “What good is information if it just sits in your mind without being applied to something?”

    • Quote 2
      Jennifer said on May 27, 2014 at 1:56 p.m.
      Congratulations to the fabulous four and the rest of the fabulous graduates of 2014!! Best to you all. Hook 'em!!!!
    • Quote 2
      Belle said on May 27, 2014 at 10:45 a.m.
      WOW!! CONGRATULATIONS! :) Wishing everyone the best! You truly started here and changed the world before graduating! Bless you all!
    • Quote 2
      Tanea said on May 19, 2014 at 12:51 a.m.
      I met Jordan one day walking to my car during Freshmen orientation. She was trying to recruit me to join a program that uplifted and helped black students at UT. I couldn't believe that this girl was following me in a car just to get me to one meeting. Throughout my stay at UT I would see her on campus and tell her hi and keep tabs on her accomplishments. I knew she was a go getter the first time she yelled hey from her car window. It is now my senior year and I can only wish to be half of what Jordan is today. Good luck Jordan!
    • Quote 2
      rental mobil di depok murah said on May 15, 2014 at 11:32 p.m.
      utexas is still the best, i so love it. Nationally, UT Austin ranked 45th amongst all universities according to U.S. News and World Report,[53] and tied for 13th place among public universities in 2011
    • Quote 2
      Rick Cherwitz said on May 15, 2014 at 7:31 p.m.
      What remarkable students with bright futures! I am especially impressed by our DDCE/Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Pre Grad intern Jordan Metoyer. Working with her was a true joy—and we are thankful that she gained so much from her IE experience: "The Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program has undoubtedly been the most rewarding experience of my college career. I have learned one essential truth that will forever define my career choices. I want to work for myself. I do. Through interviews with law students, community and regional planning professors, urban planning professionals, and government officials, I have come to discover that, at the end of the day, I want to be my own boss and utilize the skill set I have acquired to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Every time I become complacent, I am reminded that my existence and my presence at college as a first generation college graduate is a narrative much larger than my own. I am a part of a collective story of generations trying to provide a better life than the one that preceded them. I’m just trying to do the same for the generations that will come after me."
    • Quote 2
      Latha Iyengar said on May 15, 2014 at 5:14 p.m.
      Kudos to these Brilliant students and their Mentors to be creative and flexible in altering their educational goals and put their intellectual efforts to help society. Congratulations and best wishes in succeeding in their efforts.
    • Quote 2
      Letty, BJ'78 said on May 15, 2014 at 3:53 p.m.
      So proud of Jamie! All the best! All these students are wonderful ambassadors for UT and prove what starts at UT does change the world! Congrats Class of 2014! Hook'em.
    • Quote 2
      Shilpi and Sandeep Mathur said on May 15, 2014 at 11:51 a.m.
      Wishing you all the best, Nishant. This was very impressive. Good luck in your future endeavors.
    • Quote 2
      bILL said on May 15, 2014 at 7:40 a.m.
      Are these students GREAT,or what? Fantastic!
    • Quote 2
      Jane said on May 14, 2014 at 6:40 p.m.
      The world will be a better place because these students are willing to make their ideas and dreams a reality. They are destined to make a difference in the lives of many people through hard work and determination. Thank you for spotlighting their contributions and how UT has helped them start successfully.
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