AUB’s 150th class takes off to a lifetime of purpose

​​​​​​Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications, communications@aub.edu.lb

A total of 1,649 undergraduate students received their bachelor degrees on the first day of June, 2019, in a vibrant celebration of light and music. Once again, AUB’s Green Field lit up as the 150th batch of young leaders stepped out to the world, cheered by proud family, supportive friends, impactful mentors, and inspiring speakers.

The undergraduate commencement this year graduated 618 students from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 494 from the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, 305 from the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, 124 from the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, 70 from the Faculty of Health Sciences, and 38 from the Rafic Hariri School of Nursing.

“Tonight, you celebrate as you take your places among a fellowship of AUB graduates who have transformed the world around us,” said AUB President Fadlo Khuri. “Find something meaningful to you to spend your time on. You are the best and the brightest, the hope of the times to come. But you will only fulfill that hope and your dreams and aspirations if you choose to do something that makes you feel fulfilled: a role, a job, a career that can make a difference for you and others… Live balanced, happy lives, but also lives of purpose.”

President Khuri referred to this year’s honorary doctorate recipients who “embody that refusal to accept things as they are, to allow unjust things to pass,” internationally acclaimed writer Hanan al-Shaykh; renowned physician in leukemia research and treatment Hagop Kantarjian; pioneer in the area of radar remote sensing Fawwaz Ulaby; and this year’s keynote speaker, president and CEO of Mastercard Foundation, Reeta Roy.

Roy has led the Mastercard Foundation since 2008 with the vision to create a world where all people have the opportunity to learn and prosper. Under her leadership, the foundation, one of the world’s largest today, has committed more than $2.2 billion to advance education and financial inclusion across Africa and has improved the lives of more than 33 million people and their families worldwide, including AUB students. 

“The process of discovery – the act of becoming – takes a lifetime of work,” said Roy in her commencement speech. “As long as you’re alive, this work will never be done. For all that we accomplish, we all remain works in progress.”

Roy spoke about the opportunities that AUB offers its students and the “spirit of creativity – even defiance” that led AUB students, even in the darkest of days, to dream and thrive in a complex world. She encouraged the students to put themselves “in the path of an encounter that could be life changing: the encounter with difference… Where different cultural threads become part of the fabric of common humanity. Today this school is harkening back to its finest traditions, when people gathered here to seek knowledge from across Africa and Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas.  Let that spirit of welcome be part of what you take with you.” 

During the distribution of degrees, the honorary annual Penrose Award was given to an outstanding undergraduate from each faculty on the basis of scholarship, character, leadership, and contribution to university life: Karim Safieddine, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Laya Yammout, Hariri School of Nursing; Jana Jawhar, Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture; Tara Kanj, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences; Lyne El Khatib, Faculty of Health Sciences; and Maria Kahale, Suliman S. Olayan School of Business.

This year’s student speaker was Arman Khederlarian who graduated with a dual degree in economics and business. Arman was on the dean’s honor list every semester and he represented AUB in international case competitions in Europe and North America. He was elected to the University Student Faculty Committee (USFC)​ last year and was a member of the varsity football team. 

In his speech, Arman thanked “every person who has helped make AUB the astounding university it is today because [they] have allowed us to gain an educational experience like no other in the region.”

“I know that each and every one of us will always be ready to give back to AUB and to Lebanon,” he said. “We owe it to ourselves to put in all the time, talent, and effort required to change ourselves, our country, and our world for the better. The fact that we are all graduating from this prestigious university is a great step in the right direction… And if our goal is to reach the stars then AUB has taught us how to get there.”

The ceremony presented the traditional processional of the Board of Trustees, administration, and faculty members. A musical interlude performed by the AUB Classical Music ​Club preceded certificate distribution and a surprise entertainment of live music and dance followed it, engaging an excited crowd of AUB’s newest alumni, “the hope of the times to come.”