The American University in Cairo (AUC) held its spring commencement ceremonies for 690 master’s and bachelor’s degree candidates, marking the end of the 2012 academic year. In the two ceremonies, President Lisa Anderson awarded 515 undergraduate degrees and 175 graduate degrees to candidates from each of AUC’s schools, while TV presenter Yosri Fouda and Psychiatrist Ahmed Okasha addressed the graduates as the keynote speakers.
Yosri Fouda, editor and presenter of the well-known talk show Akher Kalaam or “Last Word,” which airs on ONTV, graduated from Cairo University with a degree in journalism, and received his MA in journalism and mass communication from AUC in 1992. Fouda urged the graduates to build their careers in their country. “No matter what you would like to do or say, you cannot say that there is lack of job opportunities in today’s Egypt,” he said. “Don’t believe the stock exchange, the Central Bank or the government. They have all now become only one part of the picture, and the picture is in your hand in its entirety. Tired already? It’s OK; we all get tired. Frustrated, disappointed, confused, betrayed, sad, angry? Well, get over it and get a life. What did you think you have been part of? It is a revolution, and revolutions are not instant coffee and you have already achieved a great deal, but sometimes you choose not to see it.”
Speaking at the undergraduate commencement, Okasha, professor of psychiatry and director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center for Training and Research in Mental Health and the Okasha Institute of Psychiatry at Ain Shams University in Cairo, expressed his hope and optimism about the future for Egyptian youth. Okasha advised the audience to spend more time with their families, as it is the real investment. “Having a family enhances well-being, and spending more time with one's family helps even more,” he said. “Well-being is not enhanced by wealth, power or fame, despite many people acting as if such accomplishments could bring lasting satisfaction. Character development does bring about greater self-awareness and, hence, greater happiness.”
At the undergraduate commencement ceremony, 81 undergraduate students graduated with honors, 96 with high honors and 83 with highest honors. In addition, several students were recognized by individual awards for their superior academic performance as well as their 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 Radwa Metwali and Youssef Salem. The Parents Association Cup, given to the student who has demonstrated unusual capability in blending academic achievement with a major contribution to student activities, was awarded to Ebram Attalla. Shatha El Nakib and Amin Badra shared the Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service, and the Ahmed H. Zewail Prize for Excellence in the Sciences and the Humanities was given to Farida Ahmed Monsef.
The Ahmed El Mehallawi Family Award, given to a senior who has demonstrated academic achievement and community involvement through extracurricular activities, was awarded to Amira AbdelHamid and Nehal Raafat as one team for their participation in Volunteers in Action student club . The Dr. Abdel Rahman El Sawy Award, given to the Public School Scholarship student with the highest grade point average in the engineering department, was awarded to Mohamed Abdel Al. The Engineer Bahgat Hassanein Award in Construction Engineering, a prize for the construction engineering student with the highest grade point average, went to Ahmed Abodonya.
Two graduate students were also selected for individual honors. Dina El Sharnoby won the 25th of January Award for Scholarly Excellence, which is given to the graduate student with the most outstanding thesis related to democracy, human rights, citizenship and sustainable development in the Middle East and North Africa. Meanwhile, Suzanne Morrison won the Tawfiq Pasha Doss Award, which is given alternately to the best thesis in English and comparative literature and political science.
The commencement ceremonies also presented an opportunity to honor faculty members for their excellence in academia and research. Hamza El Dorry, Department of Biology, was presented with the Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award. Ibrahim Hegazy, Department of Management, was awarded the Excellence in Academic Service Award. The Excellence in Teaching Award was given to two faculty members: Hanan Kholoussy, Department of History, and Melanie Carter, Department of Rhetoric and Composition.
In addition to awards presented to students and faculty, the University awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science at the graduate commencement to Wafaa El-Sadr, a global leader in the field of infectious disease and public health. El Sadr received the award in recognition of her significant scientific leadership and contributions to the medical and public health arenas, as well as her lifelong dedication to underserved populations, from New York to the farthest corners of Africa. For 20 years,El-Sadr served as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Harlem Hospital Center in New York City. In this role, she was instrumental in developing a comprehensive HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis program, focused on service, training and research.
Speaking at the undergraduate ceremony, President Lisa Anderson described the ceremony as the bittersweet moment, full of joy and of apprehension. Addressing the graduating class, she said, “Many of you entered AUC in September 2008, and are the first class to have completed your entire undergraduate education on the New Cairo campus. You are the people for whom this remarkable place was built, and it is astonishing how quickly you and it matured together. As new buildings opened, trees bore fruit and flowers bloomed, you learned to navigate not only this campus, but new worlds of knowledge and friendship, learning and community.”
President Anderson also noted that this class gained the experience of solidarity, affection, flexibility and inventiveness. “This class is remarkable in its loyalty to each other and its dedication to the improvement of the communities of which it is a member, whether the University itself, Egypt as a whole or, ultimately, the world,” she said.