The American University in Cairo (AUC) held its midyear commencement ceremonies for 662 master’s and bachelor’s degree candidates. In the two ceremonies, President Lisa Anderson awarded 511 undergraduate degrees and 151 graduate degrees to candidates from each of AUC’s schools, while Khaled Ismail, managing director of Intel, and Raghda El Ebrashi ’04 ’07, founder and chairperson of Alashanek Ya Balady Association for Sustainable Development (AYB-SD), addressed the graduates as the keynote speakers.
Ismail, a successful businessman who is an electrical engineer, but also a philosopher, historian, coach and advocate, advised the future entrepreneurs at the graduate commencement to be careful about time the most. “You might become a millionaire in a few years. It is how you respect time that will determine to a large extent how many of your goals you will reach,” he said. Ismail noted that entrepreneurship is about how fast entrepreneurs’ ideas are accepted and how fast those ideas generate money. “In Egypt, in the times we are at, we need entrepreneurs who care about time more than ever. From the presidential palace down to the street cleaners, we all need to become more entrepreneurial and more productive,” said Ismail.
The graduate commencement has witnessed the graduation of a special student, Sherif Kamel, dean of the School of Business who has been teaching at AUC for 20 years. Kamel earned a master’s degree in Islamic art and architecture, almost 19 years after he earned his PhD. Kamel, who delivered the class representative speech, described learning as a continuous journey. “There is always room to improve, become better at what you do, and the best thing that graduates could hope for is if they come out of AUC with more questions than they had to begin with,” he said. Kamel concluded his word by encouraging the graduates to make a difference in the community. “I am not sure where you will be in five years, but I am sure you will be contributing positively to Egypt’s future,” he added.
Speaking at the undergraduate commencement was El Ebrashi, currently an assistant professor at the German University in Cairo (GUC), who earned her PhD in strategic management from GUC in collaboration with Stuttgart University in Germany in 2010. El Ebrashi expressed her pride on being an AUC graduate, “I learned that a human is not a human if he doesn’t know why and what he lives for. I also learned that it is not enough to be good. You have to be great.” She urged her fellow AUC friends to be great, referring to Jim Collins when he said, “Greatness is not a matter of circumstance. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice”. She concluded, “Choose to be great, be proud, and don’t forget that you belong to this lovely place, AUC.”
At the undergraduate commencement ceremony, 73 undergraduate students graduated with honors, 73 with high honors and 60 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 awarded to seven students this semester, which is a record number of students for this award. The students are Monica Youssef, Nathalie Ghattas, Carla Khoury, Baland Jalal, Hassan Halawa, Mohamed Abou-Gindia, and Arwa Sayyadi.
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 Roba Bairakdar. Mohamed Sakr received 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 Carla Khoury. The Ahmed El Mehallawi Family Award, given to a senior who has demonstrated academic achievement and community involvement through extracurricular activities, was awarded to Ramy El Shawarby. 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 presented to Mohamed Ibrahim in a school ceremony. The Student Union Cup was awarded to Amr Mostafa Fathy, for his role working successfully in different branches of the student government and in diverse entities, organizations and offices throughout the campus; while the Omar Mohsen Athletic Achievement Cup, was given to Kariman Kordy, for her valuable contribution to the athletics office and AUC.
The commencement ceremonies also presented an opportunity to honor faculty members for their excellence in academia and research. Mohab Anis, associate professor of electronics engineering, Department of Electronics Engineering, was presented with the Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award. Jennifer Bremer, chair of the Department of Public Policy and Administration, was awarded the Excellence in Academic Service Award. The Excellence in Teaching Award was given to two faculty members: Jehane Ragai, department of chemistry and George Marquis, Department of Rhetoric and Composition.
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, “From your first semester, when the campus was only half-finished, through the trials of suspended classes during the H1N1 outbreak the next year, the labor protests of your fifth semester, the remarkable events of the Revolution of January 25 to the protests which closed this campus—your home—for more than a week this fall, it has been a period of turmoil: only one of the last nine semesters at AUC started and finished as planned!”
President Anderson also noted that this class learned more about how diverse a single community may be. “Both in Egypt—indeed, in the world—and at AUC, we have seen and sincerely celebrated a new willingness to criticize and find fault. After many years of feeling stifled and unnoticed, it is indeed an achievement to make one’s voice heard, to complain without fear, to make claims not as a fearful supplicant, but as a confident member of the community,” she said.