David Miliband Receives Honorary Degree, Addresses Graduates: 'We Need More Institutions Like AUC'

At yesterday’s graduate commencement ceremony, 124 master’s and seven PhD students graduated from AUC. Of these, 24 were international students. From mechanical engineering to English and comparative literature, these students exemplify dedication, aptitude and intelligence that will take them far in their postgraduate careers.

“Our graduate programs prepare students to meet the challenges of the future with courage, compassion and creativity,” said AUC President Francis J. Ricciardone at the ceremony.

To watch President Ricciardone’s remarks, click here

In addition to the graduates, Mohammed Swillam, associate professor in the Department of Physics, received the Faculty Merit Award.

David Miliband Receives Honorary Degree

David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) from the University by President Ricciardone at the ceremony.

As President Ricciardone noted, this degree was presented to Miliband in recognition of his “global leadership and accomplishment in addressing the massive refugee crisis now devastating the lives of tens of millions, and which will afflict our world for generations to come.”

Addressing Miliband, Ricciardone noted, “Your compassion and dedication to human rights around the world distinguish your humanitarian service in both the public and nonprofit sectors. ... As the President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Rescue Committee, you raise world consciousness and thus help lead the global policy and operational responses to the current humanitarian disasters.”

In his commencement address to the graduating class, Miliband called for fighting global divisions. “The world is more interconnected than ever before, but the great danger is that we are consumed by the divisions between us,” he said. “That is the danger that I fight every day in my work. That is the threat that I see in this region. ...And that is what I would ask you, using the knowledge and skills you have developed here, to fight against.”

Emphasizing AUC’s role in achieving global unity, “This institution embodies the best aspirations of higher learning, the ability to break down barriers between people, to respect different opinions, to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and to pass on that knowledge to the next generation,” remarked Miliband. “[It is] a University that espouses pluralism, critical inquiry and mutual respect located in the crossroads between North and South, East and West. It is indicative that the word Cairo and American are bound together in your name. We need more institutions like AUC, building the links that are vital in an interdependent world.”

Miliband also urged graduating students to use their remarkable network to benefit from different points of view, carry on learning throughout their lives and become a part of the global conversation. “Our job, together, whatever our field, public, private or non-profit sector, is to stand against division and embrace a world of connections, diversity, and compassion,” he affirmed. “It is the best of humanity, which we must defend together. I look forward to doing so with you.”

To watch Miliband's full speech, click here.

International Student Speaks as Class Representative

Ana Carol Torres Gutierrez, a Mexican student who graduated with a Master of Arts in Middle East studies, was this year’s graduate class representative. “I’ve always believed that education is not confined to classroom walls,” she remarked. “The biggest lessons and skills I’ve acquired during my master’s studies were facilitated by the mere opportunity I was granted, through the International Graduate Fellowship offered by AUC, to come to Egypt.”

“Four years later, as I stand here in front you, leaving again,” she continued. “I can tell you that I am eternally grateful for taking a chance on my dream, taking a chance on Egypt, and that you will never be truly successful until you dare to give beyond yourself. If you decide to live by love and not by fear, to turn fear into power, then today is not the end, but the beginning of your learning.”

To watch Gutierrez's full speech, click here