Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) graduates were told to focus on happiness, appreciation and to telling their story, at the institution’s fifth graduation ceremony on Monday.
Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro, NU-Q dean Everette E. Dennis, and BBC journalist Lyse Doucet, OBE, all had messages of encouragement for the graduates at the event.
Schapiro told the graduates that he found it distressing that “only one in three people, when asked if they are happy, answer yes”.
“Students, I want you to think about what makes you happy – be it your faith, your family or job satisfaction – or like for most of us, a combination of all three, ensure it is one which contributes more to your life than any material wealth,” he said.
Dennis said that the students “reflect the values of this school and richly deserve the congratulations they receive, as one of the most academically accomplished classes to graduate from NU-Q”.
He asked them to take a moment to think of all of those who helped them succeed and show their appreciation by standing and applauding all of them.
Doucet, the chief international correspondent at the BBC who has reported from the Middle East, including the Arab Spring and the current refugee crisis, said: “Today, we live in the best of times, and the worst of times. As a society we are more educated and more connected than ever – we are able to dream, and dream big. But we are also living in a time where wars are dragging on longer than ever, and as a result we face the biggest global refugee crisis since the second world war – where people your own age are having their dreams shattered.”
“This crisis may seem worlds apart, but it is part of our world. When I speak to these children, who have been separated from their families, and are unlikely to ever return home, they all share the same dream as you – to study, and to achieve something with their lives,” she added.
Students from this year’s class represent 14 countries and are fluent in nine languages, a true representation of NU-Q’s multi-cultural community.
Alya al-Harthy, communications senior from NU-Q and the chosen 2016 student speaker, told her fellow classmates and the friends and family gathered for the ceremony that their studies at NU-Q have taught them the skills needed to connect people and change perspectives.
Ten of this year’s class of students graduated with academic honours, each of whom has made the Dean’s List between five and seven times during their academic career with NU-Q.
The following students achieved awards of note: James Copplestone Farmer (Dean’s Award), Youmna al-Gailey (Student Leadership Award), Syed Owais Ali (Communication Award), Ralph Martins (Journalism Award), and Tamador al-Sulaiti (Liberal Arts Award).
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