The American University in Cairo (AUC) welcomes today nearly 1,000 undergraduates and more than 250 admitted graduate students for the 2016 Fall semester coming from diverse countries, including the United States, Canada, France and Switzerland, as well as different parts of Africa and the Middle East such as Kenya, Mauritania, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and, of course, Egypt. Around 100 incoming students have received full or partial scholarships to study at the University, and more than 70 students have traveled from their home countries to study Arabic or spend a semester abroad at AUC.With more than 3,000 applicants this fall, only a limited number of students were accepted. “Even though the University raised the cut-off scores, we had a long waiting list, but had to accept only a certain number of students according to the available slots,” said Randa Kamel, executive director of the Office of Enrollment and Student Services. “There was also a high demand for the declaration of science and engineering majors.”
In addition to students, AUC welcomed more than 30 new faculty members from 13 countries, including USA, UK, France, Taiwan, Turkey, Germany and Egypt. They are specialized in engineering, media and journalism, public policy, history, Egyptology, economics, arts, philosophy, psychology and law.
AUC President Francis Ricciardone welcomed the Class of 2020 at the convocation ceremony which concluded orientation week. He spoke about the essential components that make up the AUC community. “If there is one thing that is a priority for me, what brought me here, it is our community: Its health; its vibrancy; its impact on the world,” Ricciardone said.
Marwan Abdel Moneim, freshman student from Upper Egypt and recipient of the Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Scholarship Fund is attracted by the diversity and vibrancy of AUC’s community. He wrote for Bashkatib, a network of local media outlets run by youth in his hometown of Aswan. “I wanted to come to AUC because it’s the best University in Egypt and, luckily, I got a scholarship to be able to study here. You can really feel diversity in the community here on campus.”
For freshman Fatma El Nefaly, AUC is a family affair. She followed in the footsteps of her sister, who is currently a sophomore at AUC. “I haven’t totally made up my mind about what I want to do, so I really wanted to go to a liberal arts school. That way, even if I declare construction engineering, I can still minor in something else or just study a variety of topics.”
Matt Treasure, an MA Egyptology student from the U.S., was encouraged by his department chair at Truman State University, where he completed his BA, to visit AUC while he was on a dig in Egypt last year. “I just really felt there was no better place to study Egyptology than right in the country itself.”
Mariam Salam ’13, was an AUC graduate of political science, with minor in economics and decided this year to do an MA in international and comparative law. Salam moved to Dubai after graduation to work in Weatherford’s legal department. “Working at Weatherford was good exposure, but I wanted to go back to NGOs and development. That’s when I decided to pursue a degree that will complement the work I want to do. I felt the best option would be to start here at AUC again, and I really enjoy living here in Egypt.”
To get ready for the freshmen, throughout last week the campus was buzzing with activity during orientation week for incoming students. Orientation week included a majors fair, campus tours and peer-to-peer sessions, a crash course in Arabic and trips to Old Cairo and El Moez Street.
Activities are also being revamped for deeper engagement with students through competitions and peer-guided classroom sessions.
For starters, the First-Year Experience (FYE) focuses not only on introducing students to AUC’s academic programs, values and resources, but also on incorporating activities that emphasize community engagement. “We are integrating community engagement through competitions, games and selling items, where proceeds will be donated to a children’s cancer hospital in Cairo,” said Nayla El Watidy, AUC student and operations executive of FYE, pointing out the importance of familiarizing new students with AUC’s focus on engagement with the larger community early on.