I first stepped foot on UTD soil in 2007 as an 18-year-old kid with a slight interest in mathematics and computers. At the time, I had only spent three years in the United States and most universities appeared identical to me — giant stadiums, frantic fans, fraternities and parties — all creating the image of a bigger high school.
When I visited UTD during my senior year of high school, I experienced an instant sense of belonging and familiarity. I could feel the world being brought in front me as I walked through campus witnessing students from all over the globe speaking different languages, wearing different clothes, eating bizarre foods, all unified by their dream of furthering their education and providing for their families. While I enjoyed reading CNN and watching the Geography channel, the discussions I had with my Syrian and Iranian friends about the Middle East, the table tennis tournaments I participated in with my Chinese friends, the tutoring sessions I conducted for students from Sudan and the software engineering projects that kept me up at night with my Indian friends ended up carving an international view of life I couldn’t have imagined.
The world-renowned faculty who provided an example of “1+1=2” in class and then tested me on simplifying partial differential equations during the exam taught me how to handle situations when the answer was not as straightforward as I hoped it would be, times when the outcome was uncertain and forced me to climb the infinite ladder of improving myself.
Over the years the campus grew and I with it. The Bursar office moved from the basement of the library to the Student Services building, the School of Management became the Naveen Jindal School of Management, the chess team continued its international dominance, the Student Union mall was built and the area, which was once deserted, received a flowing river of students through it.
As a new UTD journey begins for some this fall semester, mine comes to an end. It is only right I provide several words of advice for those of you entering a new and exciting stage of your lives. First and foremost, understand the people around you who might have different beliefs, perspectives and traditions. Learning about others will help you understand yourself and the path you want to take in life. Second, accept failure as a normal human event for it shapes you and how you approach future situations; it is a necessary step in progress. Michael Jordan once said, “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something, but I can’t accept not trying.” Lastly, make the best of your stay here. Join organizations, play sports, try new things, but never lose sight of your academics. As UTD develops you over the next few years, try to develop it as well. Whether you become a tutor, student government representative or athlete, sound your voice and make an impact at this great university.
Tchizmarov graduated in 2011 with a BS in software engineering and will be graduating this fall with a MS in information technology and management. He has been the captain of the UTD ping-pong club since 2010 and hopes to return to UTD as an adjunct professor in the future.