Student Commencement Speaker 2021: Psychology Major Shayla V. Dang ‘21
Shayla V. Dang ‘21 is a psychology and drama joint major and this year’s student commencement speaker at the University of St. Thomas Commencement Ceremony Saturday, May 8 at 11 a.m., NRG Stadium.
Dang is the second in her family to serve as UST’s student commencement speaker. She follows her sister, Elena, who spoke in 2019. Dang notes that it is nerve-racking to follow her sister because Elena was her biggest role model.
Dang claims she has always wanted to be the student Commencement speaker. “The school means so much to me and it felt like an amazing way to honor the experience I had here,” she said.
Dang’s Speech Honors UST Diversity & Dedication to Ethical Leadership
Dang chose UST because of its diversity and dedication to ethical leadership. She truly believes the University’s values are reflected in every aspect of the school’s leadership, from the classroom to the administration.
“My speech celebrates the future while acknowledging the past,” Dang said. “The central idea of what I will say is that all universities create scholars, but UST equips its students to use that knowledge ethically.”
Dang sees the question of making ethical decisions as one of morality. For her, life isn’t measured by grades but by what we do.
“As a UST alumna, I hope that my classmates will use the talents they cultivated here to change their communities for good.”
Dang Legacy Family
Along with Dang and her sister Elena, two cousins also attended UST. “The legacy ends with me until I have children, but I do hope that by seeing me on stage my cousin Minh will be inspired to attend college one day. He is very young (6), but he has had a very hard life. In fact he lost his father during COVID. I hope by seeing me on stage he will be inspired to strive for more than his life is currently offering him.”
Dang to Study Social Work in Graduate School
After graduating from UST, she will attend the University of Houston to complete her Master’s in Social Work. Dang wants to become a medical social worker.