yashwant prakas vyas

For the First Time an International Student Speaks at Texas A&M Commencement Ceremony

Yashwant Prakash Vyas became the first international student ever in Texas A&M University history to speak at a commencement ceremony.

With a big “HOWDY” Yashwant Prakash Vyas stepped to the podium inside Reed Arena to deliver the Student Voice address not only to an arena filled with 12,000 new graduates, family members, and friends, but he stepped to the podium to represent the College of Engineering to the thousands watching live from around the world.

As the Student Voice for the College of Engineering, Yashwant received the honor of providing the first speech at the commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 12. Not only did he receive the honor of providing the first speech, but he also became the first  international student ever in Texas A&M University history to serve as the Student Voice at a commencement ceremony.

“This ceremony is about you, the students,” Karan Watson, Provost and Executive Vice President of Texas A&M explained. “It seems only fitting the first words you hear are from one of your own.”

To be selected as the Student Voice for the commencement ceremony is extremely competitive. Yashwant explained he had to submit an application back in early March. Along with the usual information such as name, major, etc. Yashwant explained he had to submit a sample speech and a biography.

“I was told the selection was not just based on the credentials of the students, but also the content and depth of thoughts in the speech,” Yashwant shared. “I applied because I had an important message to convey. My primary message to my fellow classmates and many people who listened to the speech was to engage as active global citizens and help fellow citizens in need. I wanted to tell them how important their contributes (big or small) are to make our world a better place to live. Secondly, I understand that bringing a positive change is difficult. It is very easy to get disheartened and discouraged by the cruelties of our world, hardships of our lives and unfair and unjust systems. But it is important to develop a healthy disregard to these thing and continue to ethically strive for excellence, help those in need and make our world a better place to live.”

And last, but certainly not least another reason why Yashwant applied to be the Student Voice was school pride.

“I LOVE Texas A&M University,” Yashwant said. “I wanted people around the world to know what an incredible and unique place it is. So I wanted to share a perspective of Texas A&M University from the eyes of an international student, someone who came to A&M merely based upon its academic reputation but fell in love with everything it means to be a Fightin’s Texas Aggies. Texas A&M has got some sort of X-factor, some magic that I do not know what it is or where it comes from but I could not have asked for a better place to find out what I am capable of giving back to the world. ”

Photo courtesy of Rashard Harris
Photo courtesy of Rashard Harris

When Yashwant found out he was selected as the Student Voice for his commencement ceremony, he knew he was going to make his family and mentors proud.

“My mentors trained me hard and well, so when I found out I was selected I thought to myself that I cannot mess up this opportunity,” Yashwant said.

Of course, speaking to thousands of people it may be consider normal to be nervous. But Yashwant never faltered.

“I was not nervous at all,” Yashwant shared. “I have been doing public speaking since grade two in three languages and this time I had an important message to convey and a big platform, so there was no room for nervousness.”

In his speech, Yashwant shared: “Only four years ago I was a boy from India, a weary traveler with a mind ready to take on a new country. I traveled halfway across the globe, away from my family and my country, to come to Aggieland to pursue my undergraduate education.”

You can watch Yashwant’s entire speech below. You can also read his entire speech by visiting his blog, click here. 

Pictured left to right: Texas A&M President Michael K. Young, Yashwant's family, and College of Engineering Dean Dr. Katherine Banks
Pictured left to right: Texas A&M President Michael K. Young, Yashwant’s family, and College of Engineering Dean Dr. Katherine Banks. Photo courtesy of Rashard Harris

Yashwant earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering with double minors in mathematics and leadership studies. In addition, he earned three academic certificates, recognized as an undergraduate leadership scholar and graduated with high honors.

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