Sally Abou Melhem and Safa Jafari Safa, email@example.com
AUB held an in-person ceremony to celebrate the class of 2020 who graduated last year from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA), the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS), the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), and the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (OSB).
Under the continuing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and applying all safety and precautionary regulations, the ceremony took place on the Green Field and was livestreamed for family and friends. A virtual commencement will be held on October 15, 2021 for graduates who were unable to attend in person.
In his opening address, AUB President Khuri commended the resilience of AUB students and those who serve them despite the challenges that were faced by Lebanon, the university, and the graduates over the last two years.
“Just as people across Lebanon have risen up and demanded change, so have people around the world. We can and must do better,” said President Khuri. “We can and must fight for equal rights for all. There can indeed be no peace without justice. But persistence, the persistence of citizens and societies, especially the persistence of nurses and physicians, can make a difference, can give hope to the hopeless… To be a force for change, we must continue to learn from our own mistakes and implicit biases, to become more inclusive, self-critical, merciful, and accountable. To become wiser, we must learn from our past.”
“You have done so much, learned so much, lost so much and gained a part of yourselves in your time at AUB,” added Khuri. “Most importantly, you have gained and given hope. Never surrender that hope, that feeling of being able to make a difference. If you can keep that hope alive, secure in your craft and sound in your conscience, you will be ready to change the world for the better.”
A total of 2,245 students graduated from AUB in 2020 (1,842 bachelor’s, 381 master’s, and 22 doctoral degrees). Speaking on their behalf were students Josleen Al Barathie, who received her degree of Master’s in Public Health from the Faculty of Health Sciences, and Ali Zayour, who received his degree of Bachelor of Business Administration from the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business.
“Our dear professors, thank you, not only for being our educators, but also for believing in us, inspiring us, nourishing our research skills, helping us shape our interests and aspiration for a future career, and helping us serve our community,” said Al Barathie who spoke about the path that lead her to AUB through a USAID scholarship. “One of the professors once told us, you don’t have to be famous to be a hero, we researchers are silent warriors who work behind the screen to help disprove lies, support truth, and build knowledge.” She also encouraged her fellow graduates to dream big and work towards achievements that are not only personal but ultimately serve the community and humanity.
Ali Zayour spoke about his experience as an AUB student and the changes that were brought on by the events of October 17, 2019 and August 4, 2020. He highlighted the role that the graduates can play in shaping the future.
“Do remember, by crossing this stage today, we become members of the next generation of leaders that our country and people need, we will be the significant part of this change,” he said. “Let’s keep going, chasing our ambitions and dreams.”
The Penrose Award—an honorary annual award given to outstanding AUB graduates from different faculties on the basis of scholarship, character, leadership, and contribution to university life—was offered to FAS graduate Mohamad Youssef Mdaihly and OSB graduate Ghida Ali Allam. Receiving the award during the virtual ceremony on October 15 will be FAS graduate Rindala Edward Fayyad, MSFEA graduate Aya Aref Mouallem, FAFS graduate Nour Mohamad Hammad, and FHS graduate Karina Sana Liechti.