Valedictory: Bakhan Ghafour Jabar | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Valedictory: Bakhan Ghafour Jabar

AUIS Sixth Annual Commencement
MBA Valedictory
Bakhan Ghafour Jabar
May 24, 2017

Dear Dr. Barham, President Ferguson, Members of the Board, distinguished faculty, honored guests, families, and fellow graduates.

On behalf of the MBA Class of 2017 let me welcome you all to this commencement ceremony. I am very lucky to be here speaking to you all today. By lucky I mean how fortunate I have been to have help, advice and friendship from many of you here. I thank you all.  

All of us here graduating today can look back on their school years and feel so many emotions: joy and relief, but also uncertainty and fear of what comes ahead. Seeking out the things we have learned is not just a matter of looking at our grades. There is so much we can reflect on and use in our lives. Think back to the friendships you have made. This is one of life’s true gifts. Thank you to all our friends for being there for us.

Yes, today we are celebrating our success. But this was not an easy journey. There was a point last year when I was not even sure I would make it on this stage today. I am sure many of us felt this. But, here we are.

Think about all the different subjects we have studied. Not every subject is one we are passionate about. However there are areas where we have found ourselves engaged. I love Math but I am very sure it is not for everyone.

My one passing advice is this:  Life is too short.  Do what you love.  Finding an area that you love can set you up for a future where you can explore your passion. If have not find one yet perhaps the lesson is to keep looking as there is something out there for you.

Let me give you an example. When they started the engineering program here at AUIS, the rules for being accepted into the program were not easy. So many students couldn’t make it or were afraid even to try it. But I took it, you know why? Because I loved it, I had always dreamed of it. Despite all the challenges and difficulties I faced, I could finish it successfully. So, now, here I am: an engineer and an MBA graduate and I am proud of it! When you love something, you will be successful at it no matter how difficult it is.

This university gives you many choices and you can opt for the path that you really find yourself drawn to. AUIS makes you the person you always dream to be. I am sure that everyone who has studied here will agree with me on that.

Of course, studying at AUIS is challenging, but without challenge you cannot gain anything. I have spent eight years in this University: two years taking the English language course, four years in Engineering program and the last two years studying the MBA program. And despite all the challenges that I faced in these years, I am sure that everything that I have gained here, I would never have gained anywhere else. The most important thing that I have gained from AUIS is confidence. I am sure if it had not been for AUIS, I would never have been able to stand here and talk in front of so many people and cameras with confidence!

I wish to see many more successful universities like AUIS in Kurdistan for future generations, who are successfully able to lead our country and bring positive changes. As President Obama once said: “Change requires more than righteous anger. It requires a program and it requires organizing. Passion is vital, but you have got to have a strategy.”

Graduation day is also a day that many of us turn our attention to the future and what we see as the challenges that lie ahead.

Tomorrow we are all set to start our new lives. We will pursue our chosen path for a very long time. 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 is just how much better life is when we follow our passion.

Let us take this vital lesson, find the people, places, career and areas of further study that we are passionate about. Keep positive and commit yourself to the challenges of making it happen.

For me, I found my passion when I joined AUIS! I do not remember much of my early childhood, but my mom always says that I was a very active, curious and communicative child. I would ask dozens of questions all the time, without even waiting for the answers. Fortunately, my thirst for knowledge did not come to an end when I was at school. AUIS encourages its students to question, ponder and debate. That is the essence of the liberal arts education provided here, and I was eager to ask and learn as much as possible; and this passion helped me gain so much knowledge and experience. Today, I am a person with two degrees, and thankfully I am a mother of a beautiful daughter. I am very happy and proud of that. I am certain that my education here will lead to a better tomorrow.

At the end, I want to thank some people who were a part of my journey here.

I want to thank the most important woman in my life, my mother - a woman who sacrificed all her life to be not only a mother but also a father to us and helped us finish college successfully and made us proud;  a woman who has been always there for me and the reason I find myself standing here this day, presenting my speech in front of all these amazing people. I am sure she is so proud of me. And of course my sisters and brothers, who were an important part of my success here.

My husband, who is also graduating with me. He has always been the big support in my life for any step I have taken.

Thank you to our University’s Founder - Dr. Barham Salih - for making true our dream to study in such an institution.

Thank you President Ferguson, you have been an inspiring figure to all of us!

Thank you to all our teachers, you have enriched our lives.

I am especially grateful to my sponsor, The Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, and Dr. Aso Salih; without your support, I am not sure if I could have come this far.

And I thank my MBA colleagues for choosing me to give this speech, meeting you guys is another achievement in this program.

Thanks all for being here tonight.

Good luck to all the students and graduates!