Sanya Richard Ross, Jamaican-American track star and Olympian

Delivering the Commencement Address at the University of Texas

May 18, 2013

Wow! Wow! Good evening.

First I must say good evening to President Powers. Thank you for that incredible introduction. I also have to mention how great you are. Every chance I get to interact with President Powers, I see why he is president of this amazing university. You’re just charismatic, smart, kind, humble and I really appreciate the honor to share with the UT graduating class tonight.

To all our distinguished guests, faculty, family and friends, I know this day is super special to all of you.

But to the most important people here tonight, the reason we are all gathered: The Graduates of The University of Texas’ Class of 2013. It’s your day!

You did it. You came to the 40 acres. Set your goals and you’ve achieved them!

The countless hours in the library. Group projects where you felt like you did all the work. Fighting the urge to go to Sixth Street or dropping out and becoming a local bartender in the music capital after your first SXSW.

No … it wasn’t easy! None of us know exactly what everyone here went through but tonight it doesn’t matter. Tonight is all about this moment. It’s all about you! The hard work, the focus, the perseverance paid off.

You all should be so proud.

For me, tonight is reminiscent of when I crossed the finish line first in London. I was so happy. I opened my arms wide, threw my head back and yelled, “YES!”

So tonight I think its only fitting that we share in this moment together and you too should throw our arms out, toss our heads back and yell, “YES!”


I’m so thrilled to be here sharing this moment with all of you.

When I got the call from President Powers my first thought was, man, I’d never been called to the principal’s office in middle or high school and now I was receiving a call from the President of the University of Texas! This could either be really good or really bad.

When I heard his request and that I was the student’s pick for the 2013 Commencement speech, I was flattered, humbled and excited, and then I hung up the phone and I realized, wait a minute, I’m going to be giving the keynote speech to some of the world’s greatest minds. Because we all know this is where they always come from.



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