Commencement Speakers | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Commencement Speakers

Bruce Walker Ferguson

Bruce W. Ferguson is an educator, entrepreneur and investor with a lifelong interest in technology-based innovation. He joined the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) as president on August 1, 2016. Prior to joining AUIS, he served as Professor of Practice in the Department of Engineering Systems and Management, and as the founding Head of the Institute Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Read more


Ricardo Karam
Renowned TV Producer and Presenter

Ricardo Karam is a veteran talk-show host, motivational speaker and advocate of promoting Arab achievement and social causes. Since 1996, he has worked with the movers and shakers of the world to inspire Arabs to break new ground in society, culture and business.

His skills propelled Ricardo up the career ladder from Talk Show Host to author, screenwriter and creative producer. His business acumen and analytical training gave him the confidence and ability to create new concepts in a pre-satellite era where quality shows were in short supply.The interviews went beyond the topics du jour and sought to explore the thoughts and intricate sentiments behind events impacting the world. Ricardo set himself apart with his interviewing style, forming a conduit between the special insight he was collecting from interviewees and a growing Arab TV audience. He went on to interview people with international influence such as the Dalai Lama, Farah Diba Pahlavi, Bill Gates, Luciano Pavarotti, Noor Al Hussein, Valentino, Ivo Pitanguy and Zaha Hadid.

With an ability to put his guests at ease while forensically dissecting their lives, Ricardo invariably encourages them to open up and reveal their innermost thoughts. A long line of international and Arab figures have stepped center stage and bared their souls under the glare of studio lights with Ricardo Karam.

A hardcover, pictorial book details his encounters with the interviewees. Rencontres Privilégiées (2000) was written by Ricardo and features Jose Carreras, Albert of Monaco, Charles Aznavour, Celine Dion, Kofi Annan, Omar Sharif, and others. He then authored Le Paris Libanais (2005), a book that narrates the story of the Lebanese community in France, since the outbreak of the civil war in 1975 till the year 2005.

In 2010, Ricardo decided to go beyond storytelling as a means of creating impact. He reconnected with much of the guests that he worked with over the years and created a platform for Arab Achievers named TAKREEM. Every year, TAKREEM recognizes the achievements of eight Arabs that have distinguished themselves in the Arts, Culture, Sciences, Environment, Education, Philanthropy … giving them the visibility and support needed to sustain their endeavors.

Besides being a family man, Ricardo spends much of his spare time adopting and promoting causes, primarily those that are health related and boost cultural progress.


Sherwan Hindreen
Undergraduate Valedictorian 

Sherwan Hindreen is an International Studies graduate with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies.

During his time at AUIS, Sherwan was engaged in various programs and activities. He worked at the AUIS Writing Center for more than two years, where he helped students from all departments improve their writing skills. Sherwan also worked as an intern for the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) and the Center of Development and Natural Resources (CDNR). He volunteered at the annual Sulaimani Forum and the First Stage Qallawa program - a student-run AUIS organization founded to help the children of displaced persons from southern Iraq.

Sherwan is a member of Honor Society for International Studies (Sigma Iota Rho) - an international organization that aims to bring together students and practitioners of international studies, international affairs and global affairs, from around the globe, and promote and reward scholarship and service among them and to foster integrity and creative performance in the conduct of world affairs. He is also a member of the Future Leaders Initiative, a program with the goal of identifying and mentoring AUIS students with special interest in, and potential for, leadership and service.


Bakhan Ghafour Jabar
MBA Valedictorian

Bakhan was born and raised in Sulaimani, Kurdistan. She joined the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani in 2009. After finishing the Academic Preparatory Program in two years, she began her undergraduate program at AUIS and graduated with an engineering degree in 2015. The same year, she began her master’s program in business administration at AUIS.

While studying at AUIS, Bakhan worked for Altai Consulting and the Apple store, and took up internship opportunities at Fanoos Telecom and LafargeHolcim. She took active part in many campus activities such as volunteering for the Sulaimani Forum. She participated in the first Engineering Conference (IEC2014) at Ishik University and completed a professional course in business from MSelect. Bakhan started working at Atlas Company after graduating from AUIS in 2015, and was promoted to assistant branch manager within three months of her job. She left work to spend more time with her infant daughter and focus on her MBA studies.