During his commencement address, Karam challenged the graduating class to use their education to not only thrive in the world around them, but also dare to change it.
“While you create your own future, you have the opportunity to shape the future of Kurdistan and the region,” he said. “Here you can make an impact you would never be able to in the West or elsewhere. With your education you have all the right tools at your disposal. And in whatever you choose to do, wherever you do it, you can make a positive difference simply by living your values.”
Karam, a graduate from the American University of Beirut, urged the students to employ the values and education earned at an American University to create a positive impact around them.
“This style of education is the backbone of the region. The American Universities in the Middle East have launched some of our greatest talent,” he said. “The values espoused by your University, your future Alma Mater – good citizenship, personal integrity and the ability to communicate and listen to others – together have a wider ripple effect than you can possibly imagine. We are all interconnected. How you live, how you behave, how you treat others has a direct influence in shaping the communities around you and the quality of life you are able to experience for yourself.”
President Ferguson, while congratulating the graduating class, also mentioned that AUIS is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Thanking the AUIS Founder Dr. Barham Salih, Kurdistan Regional Government, donors and supporters of the University, he said: “This widespread support reflects the fact that AUIS is not just a university for the city of Sulaimani, but a university for the entire Kurdistan region, for the country of Iraq, and perhaps someday for the entire Middle East. This vision of AUIS is still as important and compelling today as it was ten years ago. As we celebrate the University’s tenth birthday, I ask each of you here to help realize this vision.”
The undergraduate student address was delivered by valedictorian Sherwan Hindreen, an International Studies graduate, who also spoke of resilience and change as he urged his fellow graduates to stay positive and strong in the face of an uncertain future in Iraq and its Kurdistan Region.
“I believe in our ability to change the future,” he said, addressing the Class of 2017. “Today, we are leaving AUIS, and making a new beginning, a new breakthrough into life. Here, the education we have received has given us the tools needed to truly make a difference. We are here to leave a mark on the future of this nation. The road is long, and the land is harsh, but we must soldier on and stay united. We have two options: We can either face up to the challenge of taking control of our future, or we can follow in the footsteps of our forefathers and cruelly pass the responsibility to the next generation. I never shy away from a challenge, nor do you. For me the choice is clear. I hope it is the same for you too.”
Bakhan Ghafour, the MBA valedictorian and an engineering graduate of AUIS, urged her peers to earnestly look for a career choice that they have passion for: “There are infinite choices available to us but we do need to find our own path. I hope the one big lesson we have learned [at AUIS] is just how much better life is when we follow our passion.”
This year’s graduates include 93 undergraduate and 23 graduate students. More than 40 percent of the undergraduates are business administration majors, 23 percent are information technology majors, 21 percent are engineering majors, while 13 percent majored in international studies. Almost half of the of the graduating class - 47 percent - are women.
Transcripts of commencement speeches are available here.
A full video of the sixth annual commencement exercises can be viewed on the AUIS YouTube channel.
About the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
American University of Iraq, Sulaimani was founded in 2007 as an independent, non-profit, American-style institution of higher learning. Over the last decade the University has grown from ten to 1,500 students, and expanded and improved its academic programs to educate the future leaders of the region. AUIS now has over 650 alumni, most of them working in Iraq and its Kurdistan Region. More than 80 percent of AUIS’s undergraduate alumni are employed by the region’s top private companies or pursue advanced degrees at prestigious universities in the United States and Europe.
Top slideshow image: Sarteep Othman