American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) held its 10th commencement ceremony on September 25, 2021, to celebrate the classes of 2020 and 2021 in a combined event marking the first large-scale commemoration of graduates since before the coronavirus pandemic. Some 263 graduates, their families and friends, as well as special guests, AUIS faculty, and staff were in attendance. AUIS President Dr. Bruce Walker Ferguson presided over the event, which included guest speakers Qubad Talabany, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG); Dr. Aram Mohammed Qadir, KRG Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research; the Honorable Robert Palladino, United States Consul General Erbil, who spoke via video recording; and Dr. Wolgang Hinck, AUIS Vice President of Academic Affairs. Dr. Ferguson welcomed guests and graduates and congratulated their families for the students’ accomplishments, despite the hardships they endured over the last two years. “During this global health crisis, you have continued to learn when other students around the world have had to put learning on hold.” President Ferguson said. “Your degree from AUIS tells the world many things about you – that you are smart, that you work hard, and that you pay attention to the thoughts and feelings of others. Now the degree also says that you can succeed in the face of adversity.” In his address, Mr. Talabani emphasized to the graduates that they represent not only the future of their country, but the present, as the current generation who will move Iraq, and specifically Kurdistan, forward by the skills and knowledge they gained at AUIS. “Now your country needs you, specifically Kurdistan,” he said. “You had the opportunity to be educated in such a great university, so you can bravely and fearlessly start your careers and encourage others to be part of this.” He continued, “Therefore, I am repeating my words: you are not the future, you are the present of this country.” During his commencement address, Ambassador Palladino congratulated the graduates and their families for their achievement and having lived through and endured the difficulties of COVID-19. He urged the graduates to put what they learned to action. “You had to make dramatic adjustments to your lives, adapt to new technology to take classes virtually, and probably didn’t see your friends and classmates as often as you would have liked,” he said. “Some of you may have even lost family members to this terrible pandemic. But you carried on. You persevered. You graduated! You accomplished your goals using the technology our ancestors could not even dream of.” He added, “From this point, you have the opportunity to take all that you have learned here at AUIS and go out and make a better future. You will need all of that experience and knowledge.” In the time between finishing their final classes and the commencement ceremony, a great number of graduates have already secured jobs in international companies and institutions. Some are pursuing their masters’ degrees in the United States of America, Europe, and other parts of the world. Written by Ghazala Jango
American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) will hold the virtual 10th commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 on Sunday, June 13, 2021 at 6:00 PM Sulaimani time. Kindly note the video is available with English, Kurdish, and Arabic subtitles. Click the "CC" button at the lower right side of the video screen to choose your preferred language. This event follows the successful first virtual commencement in summer 2020 (Iraq's first ever online commencement ceremony) and the Sulaimani Governorate-approved in-person ceremony held on September 26, 2020, which followed strict health guidelines, including social distancing and mandatory use of face masks.
Ninth graduating class celebrates online amid COVID-19 realities SULAIMANI, July 1, 2020 — American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) today hosts the first virtual commencement in Iraq to celebrate its ninth cohort of graduates. The Class of 2020 includes 207 Bachelor’s degree recipients and 12 MBA graduates. Modeled on the University’s annual, in-person commencement ceremony, the virtual event features remarks from AUIS President Dr. Bruce Walker Ferguson, AUIS Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Jill Derby, Sulaimani Governor Dr. Haval Abubakr, former U.S. Career Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Iraqi comedian and TV personality Ahmed Albasheer, AUIS Vice President, Academic Affairs Dr. Wolfgang Hinck, AUIS MBA Valedictorian Mohanad Aydin Alyas, and Chairs of the AUIS academic departments. The speakers praised the class of 2020 for persevering through the Spring semester, interrupted by an emergency campus closure in response to the coronavirus pandemic. AUIS was the first university in the region to move to online learning and completed the semester in June. “Four months ago, our classrooms were closed,” said President Ferguson. “What we did have, though, was a good sense of direction, experienced faculty, and the determination to reach our destination, no matter how bumpy the road became.” President Ferguson went on to thank the various stakeholders who supported the University during an uncertain semester, particularly the many families for their sacrifices and support of their graduates. Dr. Derby echoed President Ferguson’s sentiments saying, “On behalf of the Board, I want to acknowledge you for your impressive accomplishment in completing your degree, and especially for your perseverance, your flexibility, your willingness to adapt to the sudden change, the altered reality you faced as AUIS students this spring.” Sulaimani Governor Dr. Abubakr urged students to use their degrees to support development in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. “Be ambassadors for Sulaimani and Kurdistan, be ambassadors for this country, so you can be bridges to the international community,” he said. “And do the same inside the country, to build academic networks and make Sulamani a global center of academics.” Ambassador Crocker also urged the class of 2020 to work towards enacting change in the region. “It is a hard truth, here and around the world, that you don’t just receive that which is rightly yours.” he said. “You get what you are willing to fight for. Much has been given to you; much is now expected.” Mr. Al Basheer delivered a humorous performance full of metaphors and focusing on the uniqueness of the graduating class. He implored the class to avoid contributing to the country’s chronic brain-drain saying, “I know many of you have decided or will decide to leave the country...but what I really hope for, is to keep people like you in the country.” “I hope to see you all stay in Iraq, to build it and serve your country, serve yourselves, your families, your loved ones, and your friends,” he added. The University plans to hold an in-person commencement ceremony for the ninth graduating cohort this September, COVID-19 permitting.