The 17th graduation ceremony of American University of Science and Technology was a celebration of achievement, excellence and commitment. The ceremony was also a grand show of pageantry, color and belief in the future. It was a celebration that surpassed the 16 preceding celebrations in every aspect ... and the speaker was the President of the Council of Ministers of the Lebanese Republic, H.E. Saad Hariri.
The audience stood and applauded the Prime Minister from the moment he entered Beirut’s Seaside Arena until he sat in his assigned seat before the faculty members marched to the music of Verdi’s Aida and filled the seats of the beautifully decorated podium with white roses and green plants signifying hope and victory, while eighteen young women dressed in white and blue Greek costumes adorned the front of the stage with a thirty meter long ivy chain signifying success and continuity being passed from a winning generation to a new younger generation that will continue the task of victorious accomplishments.
The event of the seventeenth Commencement Exercise was attended by ministers, members of parliament, ambassadors, military officers and social figures. It was declared in session by the Provost Dr. Nabeel Haidar, on behalf of the Board, the President, the Administration and the faculty. After introducing the event, Dr. Haidar introduced Dr. Hiam Sakr, as the never tired leader, AUST’s President to deliver her address. President Sakr thanked the Prime Minister for accepting the invitation to address the Class of 2018 and then exhorted the graduates to carry on with the tradition of giving that their illustrious forefathers excelled in. she reminded them that they come from a long line of geniuses who brought to the world the most intelligent of alphabets taught the world the art and science of navigation and ship building, built to humanity the most beautiful and majestic temples in Baalbeck, gave to science two Noble Prize winners: Dr. Elias Khoury in Chemistry and Dr. Peter Medawar in Immunology, as well as Dr. Michael DeBakey and Hassan Kamel El Sabbah and enriched the world of literature with the works of Khalil Gibran and countless other global thinkers. The President told the Class of 2018 that greatness is engraved in their globally hybridized DNA and therefore the world expects from them great feats in all fields of learning> dr. Sakr ended her address by reciting her conviction that the story of Lebanese giving is as old as its ancient and majestic cedar tree that provided the wood, the shade and the intelligence to the Lebanese to dissipate and scatter in the world to become what they are today: International givers.
The Vice President for Finance and Administration Dr. Riad Sakr followed with an introduction of Lebanon’s Prime Minister H.E. Saad Hariri detailing his career in the service of Lebanon and moderation. Dr. Sakr lauded the positions of the Prime Minister in the support of education and the youth of Lebanon; a glorious endeavor that began with his father’s blessed generosity in educating tens of thousands of young Lebanese men and women who returned to Lebanon and are now contributing to the efforts of building. He also thanked Mr. Hariri for supporting a larger role for women in the public sector and then invited His Excellency to the podium to address the Class of 2018 that will graduate under the banner of ‘The Graduating Class of Saad Hariri’.
To the applause of the audience, the Prime Minister walked to the podium and delivered a poignant address beginning with words to President Sakr expressing his belief that AUST is doing a very good job and inviting Dr. H. Sakr to continue on the path that would undoubtedly put AUST amongst the highly regarded institutions nationally and internationally. Then he directed his comments to the graduates saying: “My wish is to be one of you dreaming of a Lebanon that you dream of, and to see t as you see it the best and most beautiful country in the East. My confidence and trust in Lebanon are unshakable and with your efforts, Lebanon shall change from the country of confessions to the country of institutions.” At the end of his address, Mr. Hariri was presented with a gift – abaya- designed and executed by the Fashion Design Department. After the dressing event, His Excellency left amid applauses and cheers.
Dr. Mitchell Nester – Officer in Charge of Empire State College/ State University of New York – had sent a recorded video apologizing for his inability to be at the event. The video was projected and the graduates of ESC/SUNY were awarded their degrees which they received later from President Hiam Sakr.
Finally, the moment that parents, students and faculty were waiting for arrived and the students marched across the stage to receive their diplomas from President Sakr and be congratulated by their deans and chairs. All in all, close to 900 new degree recipients received their Master of Science degrees, Master of Arts degrees, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees.
Celebrations followed to the music of AUST’s Alma Mater and “Congratulations” which saw the traditional tossing of caps in the air while blue and white balloons were descending from the ceiling.
It was a magnificent event!