Undergraduate Commencement: Students Celebrate Milestone, Al Ghurair Receives Honorary Degree

Yesterday’s undergraduate commencement ceremony saw 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 leadership and philanthropic contributions.

“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.

To watch Al Ghurair's full speech, click here.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Francis J. Ricciardone said, "We have so much to celebrate today, many people to honor, not least our graduates." 

President 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.

To watch President Ricciardone’s remarks, click here

A Philanthropic Model

His Excellency Al Ghurair is well-known as a successful businessman and philanthropist who has dedicated himself to promoting accessibility to education for Arab youth through his foundation. He has been recognized with numerous honors for his global leadership and outreach efforts.

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. “It is my firm belief now that everyone in our region, no matter how little they have or how young they are, needs to be engaged. You, graduates, must lead the charge. We need you. You already have so much to give. What you learned here at this great University, your energy, your optimistic vision of the future – we need it all,” he asserted.

Al Ghurair 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. “

Distinguished Students

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, mechanical engineering major, Mohamed Ashraf Abdelghany, business administration major, Mostafa Ashraf Sabry, mechanical engineering major, Shahd Maneh Fouad, chemistry major, and Yasmin Bahaieldin Abougazia, double major in business administration and accounting. 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, business administration major, and the Student Government Cup was awarded to Farida Fouad Hetta, double major in psychology and integrated marketing communications, and Samer Atef Melek, computer science major.

In addition to the achievement cups, awards presented included the Ahmed El Mehallawi Family Award, given to George Tharwat Adly, mechanical engineering major; the Dr. Abdel Rahman El Sawy Award, recognizing Muhammad Ahmed Elgebali, double major in electronics and communications engineering, and mathematics; the Mohammed Bin Abdulkarim A. Allehedan Award, given to Hany Samy El Tantaway, petroleum engineering major; the Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service, awarded to Amira Hassan Mostapha, economics major; and the Valerie Farag Music Award, recognizing the highest performing student in music performance or music technology, Myrna Nadim Ghanem, double major in music performance and sociology.

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.”

Influential Faculty Members

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.

 President Ricciardone thanked faculty members and the University leadership for their help guiding students through their years at AUC and their own individual contributions to the University.  “AUC is blessed with a diverse, dedicated and talented faculty of international reputation, deeply committed to teaching, research and learning,” President Ricciardone said.

Student Reflections

Ali Assem Shaltout, a double major in mechanical engineering and accounting and recipient of the Parents Association Cup, addressed students as the representative of the graduating class.

Encouraging fellow graduates to experience new things, he said, “Our lives are full of laps. Every challenge we face is a lap, and then every time we have the choice to either race or chill back, we can wait for the next lap. Every time we choose to race, we can experience something new.”

Reflecting on AUC, he shared, “AUC had us experience how life works because it was all about the small choices. It was all about the laps we raced and the laps we skipped. It was all about the challenges we chose to experience while knowing that we have so little control over the process.”

To watch Ali Shaltout's full speech, click here.