Sulaimani, Iraq – June 17, 2012 – The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) awarded its first undergraduate degrees yesterday during the university’s inaugural commencement exercises. Over 800 family members, friends, and distinguished guests attended the historic event. The ceremony was presided over by Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dr. Barham Salih and AUIS President Dr. Athanasios Moulakis. Other speakers included Dr. Allan Goodman, President of the Institute of International Education, and Dr. Ali Saeed, Minister of Higher Education for the Kurdistan Regional Government. Baccalaureate degrees in Business Administration, Information Technology, and International Studies were awarded to 37 students, including the university’s first cohort of ten students. An additional 37 students received a degree of Master of Business Administration. Check more photos on our Facebook page. Dr. Moulakis opened the ceremony by welcoming the graduates and guests. “You are the students of the first hour of AUIS,” said Moulakis, addressing the graduates. “You took the risk. You trusted us when we were just a hope and a prayer, and you saw it through to the successful completion of your studies. You are now ready to go out into the world – to make your mark, to take your place in society, to make your way in life. You have the skills, you have the knowledge, you have the tools. But what your education has given you is more than tools, more than instruments, more than things to hand that are means to an end. You will be good at what you do, but more importantly you will be able to do good.” Dr. Allan Goodman, President of the Institute of International Education, gave the commencement address. He wished the graduates well and advised them to use their degrees to benefit others. “I see education as such a gift but one that is truly incomplete unless you use it to serve,” said Goodman. “So the lesson is not just about avoiding hiding your gifts but also about taking risks whose aim is to make the world we share a little bit better and safer for others.” Two graduates, Ms. Kurdistan Fatih and Mr. Ahmed Hewa Rasheed, also spoke at the ceremony. These students, who received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration, respectively, were selected as student speakers for their stellar performance in their programs. Kurdistan spoke first, noting that AUIS was a life-changing experience for her and her fellow graduates. “Without this experience we would not be the same people who we are now. I cannot imagine myself without the precious experiences, skills, and education acquired from this University,” she said. “But this University was more than just great history, English and math classes: At this University, we grew on the volleyball court, on the theater stage, in debates between students and their professors. We grew… and we grew as a community.” Ahmed also spoke of the tremendous influence the university has had on his life. “I speak for my classmates in saying that this program has had an impact on all of us and has added a great deal to our lives,” he said. “We are now armed with what it takes to tackle the challenges we will face in the future. We are equipped to act as leaders and agents of change to make this part of the world a better place.” About the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani AUIS is Iraq’s only non-profit institution for public benefit. The mission of the university is to provide advanced academic programs at international standards of quality in higher education for the professions and general education. Academic programs, taught in the English language by international faculty members, are designed to meet or exceed accreditation standards set by regional accreditation organizations in the United States. It is the objective of the University to produce graduates of responsible character with the necessary knowledge and skills for professional and national leadership. Students are prepared for successful careers in a modern, democratic, pluralistic society and in a global environment. The educational program of the university is designed to develop strength in critical thinking, the ability to communicate well, a strong work ethic, good citizenship and personal integrity. Broad-based education, rooted in the American liberal arts tradition, as well as skill development is achieved at the University through teaching excellence, quality scholarship, and caring student services. The core values of the university are freedom and responsibility, democracy, free expression and inquiry, equal opportunity, individual rights, tolerance, and honorable personal and professional behavior. These values apply equally to all members of the university community, including students, faculty and staff members, administrators, persons invited to participate at the university, and members of the board of trustees and advisory bodies. The university is, by design, an institution that is non-governmental, non-partisan, nonsectarian, independent, not-for-profit, and guided by the highest ethical standards. It is committed to integrity and the rule of law in all of its dealings with public officials and private interests. Academic freedom is a principle guaranteed in teaching, learning, and research in a manner identical to that found at regionally accredited colleges and universities in the United States. The university does not discriminate on the basis of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, occupation, politics, economic standing, or any other common human demographic factor in its admission of students or administration of the University or its policies.