commencement | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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AUIS Celebrates the Graduating Classes of 2020 and 2021 in a Joint Commencement Ceremony

  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  

AUIS Virtual 10th Commencement

    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.   

AUIS Hosts Iraq’s First Virtual Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020

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.    

Renowned TV Producer and Presenter Ricardo Karam Speaks at AUIS Sixth Annual Commencement

During his commencement address, Karam challenged the graduating class to use their education to not only thrive in the world around them, but also dare to change it. “While you create your own future, you have the opportunity to shape the future of Kurdistan and the region,” he said. “Here you can make an impact you would never be able to in the West or elsewhere.  With your education you have all the right tools at your disposal. And in whatever you choose to do, wherever you do it, you can make a positive difference simply by living your values.” Karam, a graduate from the American University of Beirut, urged the students to employ the values and education earned at an American University to create a positive impact around them. “This style of education is the backbone of the region. The American Universities in the Middle East have launched some of our greatest talent,” he said. “The values espoused by your University, your future Alma Mater – good citizenship, personal integrity and the ability to communicate and listen to others – together have a wider ripple effect than you can possibly imagine. We are all interconnected. How you live, how you behave, how you treat others has a direct influence in shaping the communities around you and the quality of life you are able to experience for yourself.” President Ferguson, while congratulating the graduating class, also mentioned that AUIS is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Thanking the AUIS Founder Dr. Barham Salih, Kurdistan Regional Government, donors and supporters of the University, he said: “This widespread support reflects the fact that AUIS is not just a university for the city of Sulaimani, but a university for the entire Kurdistan region, for the country of Iraq, and perhaps someday for the entire Middle East. This vision of AUIS is still as important and compelling today as it was ten years ago. As we celebrate the University’s tenth birthday, I ask each of you here to help realize this vision.” The undergraduate student address was delivered by valedictorian Sherwan Hindreen, an International Studies graduate, who also spoke of resilience and change as he urged his fellow graduates to stay positive and strong in the face of an uncertain future in Iraq and its Kurdistan Region. “I believe in our ability to change the future,” he said, addressing the Class of 2017. “Today, we are leaving AUIS, and making a new beginning, a new breakthrough into life. Here, the education we have received has given us the tools needed to truly make a difference. We are here to leave a mark on the future of this nation. The road is long, and the land is harsh, but we must soldier on and stay united. We have two options: We can either face up to the challenge of taking control of our future, or we can follow in the footsteps of our forefathers and cruelly pass the responsibility to the next generation. I never shy away from a challenge, nor do you. For me the choice is clear. I hope it is the same for you too.” Bakhan Ghafour, the MBA valedictorian and an engineering graduate of AUIS, urged her peers to earnestly look for a career choice that they have passion for: “There are infinite choices available to us but we do need to find our own path. I hope the one big lesson we have learned [at AUIS] is just how much better life is when we follow our passion.” This year’s graduates include 93 undergraduate and 23 graduate students. More than 40 percent of the undergraduates are business administration majors, 23 percent are information technology majors, 21 percent are engineering majors, while 13 percent majored in international studies. Almost half of the of the graduating class - 47 percent - are women. Transcripts of commencement speeches are available here. Photos of the of the commencement ceremony are available on our Facbook and Flickr pages.  A full video of the sixth annual commencement exercises can be viewed on the AUIS YouTube channel.  About the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani  American University of Iraq, Sulaimani was founded in 2007 as an independent, non-profit, American-style institution of higher learning. Over the last decade the University has grown from ten to 1,500 students, and expanded and improved its academic programs to educate the future leaders of the region. AUIS now has over 650 alumni, most of them working in Iraq and its Kurdistan Region. More than 80 percent of AUIS’s undergraduate alumni are employed by the region’s top private companies or pursue advanced degrees at prestigious universities in the United States and Europe. Top slideshow image: Sarteep Othman 

AUIS to Host Sixth Annual Commencement on May 24

  Renowned TV producer and presenter Ricardo Karam to attend as commencement speaker. 127 students expected to receive undergraduate and master’s degrees.  Sulaimani, Iraq – May 21, 2017  – The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) will host its sixth annual commencement exercises on Wednesday, May 24.  Nearly 1,000 family members, friends, and distinguished guests are expected to attend the event held on the AUIS campus. The ceremony will be presided over by AUIS President Bruce Walker Ferguson and the University’s Founder and Trustee Dr. Barham Salih. Professor Hemin Latif, assistant professor at the Department of Information Technology, will serve as the master of ceremonies. Renowned TV presenter, producer, and writer, Ricardo Karam, has been invited to attend as the commencement speaker. International Studies graduate Sherwan Hindreen has been selected as the undergraduate valedictorian for his stellar academic performance, while Ms. Bakhan Ghafour will represent her class this year as the MBA speaker.   Baccalaureate degrees will be awarded to 103 students in Business Administration, Information Technology, International Studies, Mechanical Engineering, Construction Engineering, and Energy Engineering. An additional 24 students are expected to  receive a degree of Master of Business Administration. The event, which will be hosted at the spacious and picturesque courtyard of the University’s administration building, will begin at 6:00 P.M.   To attend as a member of the press, please contact Bzhar Boskani at [email protected] or +964.770.152.1893. About the Commencement Speaker 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. Karam has interviewed numerous 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. He is the author of two books; Rencontres Privilégiées (2000) featuring some of his influential interviewees, and Le Paris Libanais (2005) on the Lebanese community in France. In 2010, Ricardo formed TAKREEM - a platform that recognizes and supports the achievements and endeavors of Arabs who have distinguished themselves in the arts, culture, sciences, environment, education, or philanthropy every year. About AUIS Established in 2007 as an independent, not-for-profit institution, AUIS is dedicated to providing a comprehensive liberal arts education for the benefit of young men and women from Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, and the wider region. The University’s 1,500 students develop a responsible character with the knowledge and skills needed for professional and national leadership. AUIS graduates are in high demand, with most employed in the private sector by prestigious international and local companies. More than 80 percent of our alumni are either employed or enrolled in top-tier graduate programs around the world.


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