The American University in Cairo (AUC) held yesterday its June 2017 undergraduate commencement ceremony that witnessed the graduation of a total of 634 students, of whom 108 were distinguished as cum laude, 114 as magna cum laude, and 130 as summa cum laude. His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Group and chairman of the board of trustees of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from AUC in recognition of his global leadership and dedication to transforming the educational landscape and providing learning opportunities for deserving students throughout the Arab world. “Class of 2017, you are among the best positioned young people in our region. I urge you to begin your journey of giving early,” said Al Ghurair, addressing the graduating class and touching on the importance of philanthropy, encouraging students to begin thinking of ways to contribute to their community as soon as possible.
Speaking at the ceremony, AUC President Francis J. Ricciardone said, "We have so much to celebrate today, many people to honor, not least our graduates." Ricciardone introduced Al Ghurair as an example for students to seek to emulate as they move forward. “Your dedication to empowering the youth of this region, your drive to constantly innovate and your push to lead a growing network of like-minded and dedicated philanthropists are truly inspirational,” said President Ricciardone.
Al Ghurair is the president of FBN GCC, a nonprofit international network that is run by family businesses, for family businesses. Al Ghurair is also a trustee of New York University President’s Global Council and is on the board of directors of Emirates Foundation. Since 2012, Al Ghurair has been the chairman of the UAE Banking Federation. Al Ghurair has received numerous honors and recognitions for his leadership in business and philanthropy,
Al Ghurair gave the graduates three pieces of advice based on his personal experience: 1) Always challenge the status quo; 2) Persevere in the face of adversity; and 3) Give back to your country and region. He also urged them to make strides as leaders, engaging with their communities and sharing the knowledge they’ve built at AUC. He thanked President Ricciardone and AUC for being among four partner universities in the region to support his vision for education. “I want to mention a special thanks to President Riccardione and all of AUC for opening their doors to Al Ghurair Scholars from Egypt and the Arab world,” said Al Ghurair. “We share the vision that philanthropic foundations, education institutions and others can and must come together to open access to education to those who need it the most.”
He added, “This is why I am so pleased that AUC is one of the first to step up to work with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education to offer scholarships to high-achieving refugee youth. This is part of a new drive I am personally championing to ensure that no young person uprooted by conflict in our region should ever have to go without an education. “
Students were recognized for their significant academic and extracurricular accomplishments at the ceremony. The President’s Cup as well as the Mohamed El Beleidy Academic Award was awarded to the graduating seniors with the highest grade point average: Adham Mokbel Riad, Mohamed Ashraf Abdelghany, Mostafa Ashraf Sabry, Shahd Maneh Fouad, and Yasmin Bahaieldin Abougazia. The Parents Association Cup, given to the student who has demonstrated exceptional capability in blending academic achievement with a major contribution to student activities, was presented to Ali Assem Shaltout. The Omar Mohsen Athletic Achievement Cup was awarded to Dina Alaa Meshref and the Student Government Cup was awarded to Farida Fouad Hetta and Samer Atef Melek.
In addition to the achievement cups, awards presented included the Ahmed El Mehallawi Family Award, given to George Tharwat Adly; the Dr. Abdel Rahman El Sawy Award, recognizing Muhammad Ahmed Elgebali; and the Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service, awarded to Amira Hassan Mostapha; and the Valerie Farag Music Award, recognizing the highest performing student in music performance or music technology, Myrna Nadim Ghanem. The Ahmed Zewail Prize for Excellence in the Sciences and Humanities was presented to Lara Aasem Ahmed for her essay titled "Ibn Khaldun's iPad: Towards Interdisciplinary Collaboration Between Social and Computer Science.”
Faculty Merit Awards were presented to Doris Jones, senior instructor in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition who received the Excellence in Teaching Award, and Ahmed Abdel Meguid, associate professor in the Department of Accounting who received the Excellence in Academic Service Award.