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Undergraduate Commencement 2017: A bridge to a better future
Jennifer Muller  |  Office of Communications  |  | 


On Saturday night, 1668 graduating students assembled at AUB’s Greenfield for the 148th Exercises for the Awarding of Undergraduate Degrees. As dusk fell under balmy skies, the ceremony began with the pomp and circumstance of the opening processional. 

President Fadlo R. Khuri took the podium and welcomed the audience of dignitaries, trustees, faculty, staff, students, and their families and friends. Addressing the graduates, the president exhorted them to embrace the moments of doubt they will surely encounter and to make important decisions based on what is best for the community as well as for themselves.

“With Lebanon ever precarious, with a war-torn Arab World, and the biggest humanitarian crisis happening right at our door, it is you, our graduates, who are looked to as beacons of hope, hope for a better tomorrow,” said President Khuri. “You are the bringers of change, the salvers of wounds, the providers of hope, and caregivers for communities. All of this can be achieved only through real doubt and introspection, by service and sacrifice, by application, by knowledge.”

During his speech, the president paused to observe a moment of silence in memory of Maroun Semaan, noting that this is the first year that students will be graduating from the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, now named for this former AUB alumnus, trustee, philanthropist, and dear friend.

Following the president were two student speakers. First was Biology major Hussein Khachfe, last year’s vice president of the University Student Faculty Committee. He thanked all the parents and professors that helped the Class of 2017 get to this point and then spoke directly to his peers.

“Seize the opportunities that lay in front of you, be leaders, role models, innovators, reach the heights no one else has, but always have the kind soul that AUB has enriched us with, and let it flourish along with your many accomplishments to come. Work hand in hand to create the bright future we all wish to see,” said Khachfe.

The second student was Political Studies major Rim Sinjabe, who spoke about surviving a horrible accident and her agonizing moments lying on the highway when she was unsure if she would ever walk again or even if she would live or die. After a long and difficult recovery, she found a new sense of purpose.

“Every living, breathing minute was an opportunity to fully realize my potential as a human being,” said Sinjabe. “That was my perspective, which ultimately allowed me to discover my purpose. With this in mind, I decided to be both the protagonist and the author of my own story.” 

President Khuri then called on Mouna Haraoui to deliver the keynote address, introducing her as “an inspiring humanitarian and activist.” On the previous night, AUB had conferred upon Mouna Haraoui an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Mrs. Haraoui described the many endeavors she has been involved with over the years to promote education, public health, and women’s rights. These include establishing the Chronic Care Center to support children with chronic diseases, working to improve the status of Lebanese women, and efforts to protect the Lebanese national heritage. She acknowledged that this work is far from over.

“As you would imagine, a lot has still to be done,” said Haraoui. “Let us dream this evening of a Lebanon where human dignity, integrity and respect of diversity prevail. Where human rights, social justice, and dialogue dominate. Where allegiance to our nation is a priority over all other considerations.”

For the musical interlude before the distribution of degrees, virtuoso musician Simon Shaheen gave a special violin performance. Shaheen was also one of this year’s honorary doctorate recipients and he chose to show his thanks and appreciation through music.

Then, what all the eager students and their loved ones had been waiting for: the distribution of degrees by Faculty. With pride and dignity, each student climbed onto the stage to receive their diploma and shake hands with the president, pausing briefly for a prized photo of their shining moment.

After all the degrees were conferred and those on stage processed out, the audience was treated to an exciting performance by an acrobat suspended from a massive helium balloon. The atmosphere was one of joy at the culmination of one long journey and eager anticipation for the beginning of another.

As Mouna Haraoui stated optimistically at the end of her keynote address: “This day is surely a bridge to a better future.”​
Story Highlights
  • ​​​On Saturday night, 1668 graduating students assembled at AUB’s Greenfield for the 148th Exercises for the Awarding of Undergraduate Degrees. As dusk fell under balmy skies, the ceremony began with the pomp and circumstance of the opening processional. ​​
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