Subir Dhamoon, Ph.D. 2013 (Mathematics): Convocation 2016 Remarks

Welcome everyone to the Graduate Center. To our foreign students arriving for the first time in the United States, I extend a warm welcome to New York City. In my opinion, New York City is the greatest city in America.

I would like to take a moment and thank President Robinson and administrators for allowing me this opportunity to speak with you all today.

It was not too long ago that I sat here in this auditorium on my first day as a student in the department of mathematics. It is important for you to realize and appreciate that you are all embarking on a very special journey in your life. During the pursuit of your doctoral degree, you will undoubtedly cultivate and enhance your intellectual capabilities. I also hope that during this time that you will take advantages of this opportunity and grow also as a person. My experience at the Graduate Center and more broadly at the City University of New York fundamentally altered my perspective of the world. I realized that a successful and fulfilling career was not solely going to be based upon scholarly contributions to my field of study. High quality academic work was assumed. But in addition to my research, I realized that my contributions to society and public service would also be a measure of my self-worth. I hope your journey and your time here will yield rich and profound life experiences as it did for me.

Everyone in this room has travelled a unique path to arrive at this convocation today. My journey to the Graduate Center began 30 miles south of Nashville, Tennessee in a rural community with a population of about 9,000 people. My mother, like many of you in this room, came to the United States to pursue educational opportunities and establish a better life. She arrived in Nashville with my father in 1971 to attend Peabody Teachers College, which is now part of Vanderbilt University. Inspired by a mentally disabled sister, my mother studied special education and would dedicate a 38-year career to improve the lives of the most disabled and disadvantaged children in our society. The early years of my parents' life in the United States were by far the happiest years as they achieved the American dream. However, as time passed, my parents eventually divorced, leaving a single mother to raise two kids. In addition to being a full time special education teacher, my mother worked two additional jobs to ensure my sister and I had the resources to succeed. Looking back on my life, I realize now that this adversity would serve as inspiration to me. After completing my undergraduate degree in Nashville, I relocated to New York with the goal of attaining a doctoral degree. After working in the financial industry for a few years, I returned to school full time and enrolled at the Graduate Center. After completing my doctorate in mathematics, I have established a career outside of academia in the field of bank and financial regulations.

I share with you my personal story to highlight how life experiences shape who we are. Although our sources of inspiration and motivation may differ, we all share common traits such as grit, perseverance, and determination. Believe in yourself and the promise that you hold. Set high expectations and goals for yourself and be sure to exceed your personal ambitions.

As you begin your graduate studies, I would like to provide you with some advice from my own experiences.

First, establish a community of peers for yourself and foster a collaborative work environment with colleagues in your department. Compared to my experiences at other universities and colleges, I find the Graduate Center to be one of the most collegial and respectful environments to work in. Additionally, a community of peers can also serve as a support network during the most challenging times as a student.

Second, install a consistent study schedule and establish solid work habits during your time here. Work habits you establish now will carry with you throughout your career.

Third, many of you will be teaching at CUNY campuses around the city. Respect the students enrolled in your classes and be humble. Remember, you are also a CUNY student and treat students in your class in the same manner as you would want to be treated.

Fourth, for those students who are married or in a meaningful relationship, make sure your spouse or partner understand the level of commitment and dedication required to complete your degree. Often times we become so consumed by our work, that we forget the impact our academic careers have on our loved ones. It is very critical to have the complete buy in from your family, friends, and loved ones.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, take full advantage of the many resources the Graduate Center has available to students. Many of these offices and groups were not available during my time here. The administration has been working tirelessly to buildout as many resources as students need to succeed. I strongly encourage you to explore the multitude of resources available at the Graduate Center home page.

Finally, in closing, I will note that there are many books available which provide guidance on subjects such as securing research grants and selecting an advisor. I recommend the book "Getting What You Came For", by Robert Peters. I wish you all the best as you begin your academic careers. Thank you for your time and attention.


Subir Dhamoon
Ph.D. 2013 (Mathematics)

Submitted on: AUG 24, 2016

Category: Alumni News | General GC News | Mathematics