On 11 February, the American University in Cairo (AUC) held its midyear graduation commencement ceremonies, where Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris were the keynote speakers.
The ceremony witnessed the graduation of 523 bachelor’s degree students, of whom 84 graduated with honours, 79 with high honours and 65 with the highest honours.
Master’s degrees were awarded to 197 students and two students received doctorate degrees.
The ceremonies also witnessed the graduation of 33 international students.
AUC President Francis Ricciardone welcomed Sawiris – who is the executive chairman of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding and chairman of Orascom TMT Investments – as the undergraduate keynote speaker.
“Through his leadership in a wide range of business ventures and civic engagements, Naguib Sawiris has established himself both nationally and globally as a public figure of extraordinary impact and influence, not least on Egypt’s economic and social development,” Ricciardone said.
“I am very pleased to announce Engineer Sawiris’ latest contribution to the vitality and global appeal of Cairo... Naguib Sawiris and AUC have established a new partnership to revitalise our original downtown campus as a Centre for the Arts and Culture.”
The inauguration of the centre is expected to be part of the celebrations of AUC’s coming centennial.
Sawiris told the students in his speech, “You are graduating at the right time,” highlighting how the economy in Egypt is heading for a “very strong start.”
“We are very grateful to AUC because most of our workforce has come from this university and has contributed to our success.”
Sawiris shared with the graduating class some advice: “Honesty pays, be fair, true to your principles. Don’t cut corners, if you think something is wrong, don’t do it. Trust God and believe in him, he will always be on your side. If you believe in him, he will believe in you.”
He also shared his secrets to success, saying, “don’t accept no for an answer, be hard-headed, be innovative. People will put obstacles in your way and it is all up to you. There is always a way in the end.”
“You have a big responsibility, this is the most beautiful country in the world and it needs you.”
When introducing Minister Nasr, Ricciardone said, “If most Egyptians today think of Dr Nasr as a national leader, and others all around the world recognise her as a leading contemporary economist, we at AUC think of her first and foremost as an educator of global stature – and, as a daughter of AUC.”
“We are especially grateful for her current service as a professor of economics at AUC.”
Nasr said, “thirty years after my graduation from this esteemed institution where I've learnt a lot, I’m continuing to learn every day from my students, some of whom are graduating today and I'm very proud of all the learning from my peers, from my family members, from my children, learning from my experiences, the good and the bad.”
“Keep learning, keep striving to do better for yourself and for the world you live for.”
She also stressed that nothing pays off as much as perseverance, determination and commitment.
Distinguished students at the undergraduate commencement were recognised for their achievements. The President’s Cup and the Mohamed El-Beleidy Academic Award were given to Helen Rizkalla, who ranked highest in the graduating class and who studied construction engineering.
The Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service was awarded to Omar Hassan Zaky. The Omar Mohsen Athletic Achievement cup was presented to Mohamed Mohab Morsi, a decorated swimmer both nationally and internationally, who studied mechanical engineering.
Other awards included the Ahmed El-Mehallawi Family Award, which was given to Nada Hafez Sharafedddin. The Parents Association Cup was presented to Mohamed Nabil Heggi, who studied petroleum engineering. Students Ahmed Khaled Etman and Rana Khaled Morsy were awarded the student Government Cup. Abdel-Rahman Ahmed Baheyeddin and Ahmed Hossam Refai received the Valerie Farag Music Award.
The Dr Ahmed Abdel-Rahman El-Sawy award, presented to the student with the highest grade point average in the engineering department, who has been a Public School Scholarship recipient, was awarded to Mark Sameh Tadros.
Naguib Sawiris at the AUC Commencement (Photo: courtesy of the AUC Communication Office)
Minister Sahar Nasr speaks at the Graduate Commencement (Photo: courtesy of the AUC Communication Office)