Saturday, September 25, 2021 - 21:15
American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) held its 10th commencement ceremony on September 25, 2021, to celebrate the classes of 2020 and 2021 in a combined event marking the first large-scale commemoration of graduates since before the coronavirus pandemic. Some 263 graduates, their families and friends, as well as special guests, AUIS faculty, and staff were in attendance.
AUIS President Dr. Bruce Walker Ferguson presided over the event, which included guest speakers Qubad Talabany, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG); Dr. Aram Mohammed Qadir, KRG Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research; the Honorable Robert Palladino, United States Consul General Erbil, who spoke via video recording; and Dr. Wolgang Hinck, AUIS Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Ferguson welcomed guests and graduates and congratulated their families for the students’ accomplishments, despite the hardships they endured over the last two years.
“During this global health crisis, you have continued to learn when other students around the world have had to put learning on hold.” President Ferguson said. “Your degree from AUIS tells the world many things about you – that you are smart, that you work hard, and that you pay attention to the thoughts and feelings of others. Now the degree also says that you can succeed in the face of adversity.”
In his address, Mr. Talabani emphasized to the graduates that they represent not only the future of their country, but the present, as the current generation who will move Iraq, and specifically Kurdistan, forward by the skills and knowledge they gained at AUIS.
“Now your country needs you, specifically Kurdistan,” he said. “You had the opportunity to be educated in such a great university, so you can bravely and fearlessly start your careers and encourage others to be part of this.”
He continued, “Therefore, I am repeating my words: you are not the future, you are the present of this country.”
During his commencement address, Ambassador Palladino congratulated the graduates and their families for their achievement and having lived through and endured the difficulties of COVID-19. He urged the graduates to put what they learned to action.
“You had to make dramatic adjustments to your lives, adapt to new technology to take classes virtually, and probably didn’t see your friends and classmates as often as you would have liked,” he said. “Some of you may have even lost family members to this terrible pandemic. But you carried on. You persevered. You graduated! You accomplished your goals using the technology our ancestors could not even dream of.”
He added, “From this point, you have the opportunity to take all that you have learned here at AUIS and go out and make a better future. You will need all of that experience and knowledge.”
In the time between finishing their final classes and the commencement ceremony, a great number of graduates have already secured jobs in international companies and institutions. Some are pursuing their masters’ degrees in the United States of America, Europe, and other parts of the world.
Written by Ghazala Jango