February 17, 2014, Cairo, Egypt – The American University in Cairo (AUC) held its mid-year commencement ceremonies for 700 master’s and bachelor’s degree candidates. In the two ceremonies, President Lisa Anderson awarded 535 undergraduate degrees and 165 graduate degrees to candidates from each of AUC’s schools. Addressing the students as the keynote speakers were Ahmed El Alfi, the founder and chairman of the Cairo-based venture capital firm, Sawari Ventures and Yousriya Loza Sawiris, a philanthropist, a businesswoman, an environmental advocate, a former parliamentarian and an alumna and longtime supporter of AUC.The graduate commencement has witnessed awarding the first PhD degree in the history of AUC to Yousra El Maghraby, which marks an important milestone for the university. El Maghraby has earned a PhD in engineering with a specialization in construction engineering. Her thesis was entitled "Experimental and Numerical Investigation of the Behavior of Screen Grid ICF Walls" and her dissertation committee was composed of the late Provost Medhat Haroun, Ezzat Fahmy, former dean of the School of Sciences and Engineering; Mohamed Abdel Mooty, professor of structural engineering; and Mohamed Nagib Abou-Zeid, professor of construction and architectural engineering.
In her remarks to graduate students, Sawiris, who was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy on that day, mentioned that living in Egypt, which is a nation that has great faith in God, allows Egyptians to obtain from God “the advantage of happiness”, since there are no bounds to God’s love of humanity.
Sawiris concluded her speech by advising the students, “You have all enjoyed the benefits of a good education therefore there will be no barriers to you becoming a life-long learner. The world’s cultural heritage should also be your richest source of love of good reading, good will and good practice that guides you as a successful ambassador of Egypt.”
Speaking at the undergraduate commencement, El Alfi said that happiness doesn’t come from winning but rather from doing your best and being proud of yourself and urged the students to put their best in everything they do. “Satisfaction and happiness comes from being thankful, thankful for everything that God has given us, for the people who have helped us, and most important for the opportunity we have to help others,” said El Alfi.
At the undergraduate commencement ceremony, 94 undergraduate students graduated with honors, 72 with high honors and 49 with highest honors. In addition, several students were recognized by individual awards for their superior academic performance, as well as their contributions to campus and community life.
The President’s Cup and the associated Mohamed M. El-Beleidy Academic Award, both of which go to the student with the highest grade point average, were awarded to Mariam Ali Hassan Awni, mechanical engineering major. The Parents Association Cup, given to the student who has demonstrated unusual capability in blending academic achievement with a major contribution to student activities, was awarded to Habiba Bakir. Mohamed Soliman received the Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service and the Ahmed El Mehallawi Family Award, given to a senior who has demonstrated academic achievement and community involvement through extracurricular activities, was awarded to Karim Gad, who was also awarded the Student Government Cup for working successfully in different branches of the student government and in diverse entities, organizations and offices throughout the campus.
Moreover, The Dr. Abdel Rahman El Sawy Award, given to the Public School Scholarship student with the highest grade point average in the engineering department, was presented to Ahmed Kenawy. Meanwhile, the Omar Mohsen Athletic Achievement Cup was given to Mohamed Hesham Sanad for his valuable contributions to the athletics office and AUC.
The commencement ceremonies also presented an opportunity to honor faculty members for their excellence in academia and research. Akm Ahsan Ullah, Center for Migration and Refugee Studies, was presented with the Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award. Pandeli Glavanis, Center for Learning and Teaching, was awarded the Excellence in Academic Service Award. The Excellence in Teaching Award was given to two faculty members: Sherene Seikaly, Middle East Studies Center and Lammert Holdijk, department of rhetoric and composition.
Speaking at the undergraduate ceremony, President Lisa Anderson addressed the audience: “No AUC graduate thinks it is all easy, no AUC graduate expects not to work hard, no AUC graduate is complacent, satisfied, willing to settle. And that is as it should be.”