The American University in Cairo (AUC) held its spring commencements for 598 graduate and undergraduate degree candidates, marking the end of the 2011 academic year. In the two ceremonies held to honor the undergraduate and graduate students President Lisa Anderson awarded 458 undergraduate degrees and 140 graduate degrees to candidates from each of AUC’s schools while Mohamed El Erian and Galal Amin addressed the graduates as the commencement speakers.
The theme of revolution figured strongly in all the speeches given at the commencement ceremonies. Mohamed El Erian, CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, who was presented with an honorary degree before speaking at the undergraduate ceremony asked graduates not to give up on themselves and to always be inspired by their potential to serve. “Some of you may think this is too overwhelming or too difficult,” he said. “But don’t feel that, there are challenges we will surmount together if we share a common purpose. You may wonder how to make a difference, but you have an opportunity to maintain a positive momentum for change, by volunteering, setting up NGOs, and changing the villages and communities around you. You are the new Egypt.”
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Amin, professor emeritus and prominent economist expressed his hope for the next generation. “My generation was deprived of choices, but we also had many fewer responsibilities. Happily the events of January 25 have proven that the generation wants the choice and deserve the responsibility that comes with this.”
In addition to the 70 undergraduates graduated with honors, 90 with high honors and 77 who graduated with highest honors, several students were chosen for individual awards recognizing superior academic enterprise and contributions to campus and community life. The President’s Cup and the associated Mohamed M. El-Beleidy Academic Award, both of which go to the student with the highest grade point average, were shared by Sara Ayad and Sarah Halawa, a business administration major and Electronics Engineering major respectively. Noureen Ramzy won the Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service; the Ahmed H. Zewail Prize for Excellence in the Sciences and the Humanities was given to Yousra Metwally; the Ahmed El Mehallawi Family Award, given to a senior who has demonstrated academic achievement and community involvement through extra-curricular activities, was awarded to Nizar Khashaba; the Parents Association Cup was awarded to Amin Marei; the Dr. Abdel Rahman El Sawy Award, given to the Public School Scholarship Fund student with the highest grade point average in the engineering department, was awarded to Mohamed Nasr. The Engineer Bahgat Hassanein Award in Construction Engineering, a prize for the construction engineering student with the highest grade point average, went to May Mahmoud Haggag. Two graduate students were also selected for individual honors. Omnia Ahmed M. Abdellatif won the 25th January Award for Scholarly Excellence while May Mohamed Nabil Hawas won the Tawfiq Pasha Doss Award.
The commencement also presented an opportunity to honor faculty for excellence in academe. Rasha Abdulla, of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Ezzeldin Soliman of the Department of Physics were presented with the Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award. Abdulla, author of The Internet in the Arab World: Egypt and Beyond and Internet in the Arab World, was honored for her work turning emerging social media into an engaging academic topic. Soliman, a three-time patent holder was honored for his ability to turn create academic work on the design of integrated antenna systems, computational electromagnetics, and plasmonics with practical impact on everyday life. Aziza Ellozy, of the Center for Learning and Teaching, was awarded the Excellence in Academic Service Award for her significant and selfless service to the University’s institutional structure particularly through her work on the Senate Faculty Affairs Committee. The Excellence in Teaching Award was given to two faculty members, Mohab Anis and Valerie Carpenter. Anis, of the Department of Electronics Engineering was honored for his commitment to helping students garner full understanding of electronics and his invitation for individual thinking both in class and on examinations; Carpenter, an instructor in the English Language Institute was honored for her accessibility to students and for her numerous contributions to curriculum development.
Speaking at the undergraduate ceremony, President Lisa Anderson expressed admiration for the graduates and expressed hope for their future in the new Egypt, “This has been a remarkable journey for these students, as for their families and teachers. They started their careers at AUC in Tahrir Square, on our historic campus; they moved out to our New Cairo campus, where you can see the future of Egypt; and from here, they returned to Tahrir Square, with millions of other young Egyptians, this time, to integrate their history and their future in the 25th of January revolution,“ Anderson said. “Now we are beginning to glimpse the returns on that investment—the ingenuity, discipline, intelligence and resilience that young people across Egypt are exhibiting every day. There is no doubt that the next few years will be difficult and complex for many of us here in Egypt but, surrounded, as we are here at AUC by your children, we cannot help but be greatly optimistic. They are astonishing—in their community spirit, in their buoyant enthusiasm, their initiative and inventiveness—and we have been delighted to have them among us.”