June 6, 2016, Cairo – The American University in Cairo (AUC) held its Spring 2016 commencement ceremonies that witnessed the graduation of 621 bachelor’s degree candidates, of whom 123 graduated with honors, 121 with high honors and 108 with highest honors. Master’s degrees were awarded to 160 candidates at the graduate commencement and four students received a doctorate degree. The students at the graduate commencement represented Egypt, Canada, Italy, Jordan, Libya, Norway, Palestine, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Syria, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Yosra, actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts and delivered the undergraduate commencement speech. Alumnus Ahmed Zahran '02, CEO and co-founder of KarmSolar, delivered the graduate commencement speech.
In her speech, Yosra addressed the undergraduate students by saying, “I am delighted to share this day with, you have greatly honored me with this honorary degree. The honor you are giving me tonight is not exclusive to Yosra, this is a recognition for all artists and the important role of art in society. I have learned that art and education are two sides of the same coin: that coin is the future. Like education, art plants the seeds of understanding, expression, empathy and tolerance. Art is an international language that does not know racism or intolerance. Art is a language that has no barriers and needs no translators, the language that rejects violence and terrorism. The language of the heart that celebrates life.”
Yosra also said, “I am especially humbled that this recognition comes from an institution such as AUC, a significant contributor to education and research in our region for nearly a century. I am also deeply humbled to be the second Egyptian actress to be awarded an honorary degree from AUC after my idol and role model Mrs. Faten Hamama, God bless her soul.”
Giving advice to students, Yosra said, “remember that educating the mind and not educating the heart is no education. Follow your heart and passion; be good even when others are not so good. When the road to your destination is blocked, find another road, dig your own tunnel, never give up.”
Undergraduate class representative Nada Ayoub, bachelor of arts in integrated marketing communication and bachelor of arts in visual arts gave a film- inspired speech to her classmates. “We are the actors, directed by our inner voices, families or institutions, with a crew of our choice, a mise en scène that changes, and other characters who come and leave in different scenes, who may be props or main characters.” Ayoub said, “The plot twist is, regardless of where you end up, how your movie will play out is something you get to decide. You are your own director. You call “action,” say “cut,” write out your own plotline and draft your own script.” She added, “will you have another director, be it your boss, parents or community, giving a few guidelines here and there? Sure. What you make of these directions is what will define you, what you allow is.”
Zahran shared his experience as co-founder and CEO of KarmSolar at the Spring 2016 graduate commencement ceremony at AUC. He spoke about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Egypt, starting from the January 25 Revolution to today, stating that entrepreneurship is a form of self-expression and independence for Egyptians. Zahran is the recipient of AUC’s Distinguished Alumni Award and holds a bachelor of business administration from AUC. His company, KarmSolar is a solar technology and integration company working in the field of off-grid solar innovations.
Zahran said, “It is important that we realize that the ultimate winners in our struggle to transform Egypt to a developed nation are those who will be able to solve our society’s problems, create jobs, design and produce original products that add value to society and thus every problem our society faces becomes an opportunity to solve it and by consequence every solution is a potential for a business idea and every business idea is a potential company and every company becomes a potential job creator and not just any jobs but valuable jobs that help solve our problems and export our solutions to those suffering from the same problems globally.”
At the graduate commencement, the graduate class representative Omneya Makhlouf, master of laws (LLM) in international and comparative law, said “pursuing higher education is the road less traveled. “Not everyone does it. Not everyone can do it. But we did. We’ve been faced with challenges that only each one of us understands. So, why did we do it? Because we each have a purpose, whether to improve our career prospects, further our understanding of a certain discipline or, in my case, change the world. Sure, it sounds naive. But we’re the ones who chose “the road less traveled.”
The President’s Cup and Mohammed M. El-Beleidy academic award, given to those who rank highest in the graduating class, were presented to three students who all earned a 4.0 GPA Ahmed Amr Aboubakr Abdelaal , management of information and communication technology, Dima Aiman Abdellatif Alsakka, business administration and Farida Mahmoud Abdelbasset Shahata, mathematics.
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