Commencement 2011
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Attends
AUD's 14th Commencement Ceremony
May 17, 2011
Graduation 2011

Under the patronage and in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, the American University in Dubai (AUD) held its fourteenth commencement ceremony at the Sheikh Rashid Hall of the Dubai World Trade Center to celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2011, broadcast live on local and regional TV stations.

Graduation 2011

Some 5,000 people attended the event this year including H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mansour Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikhs, ministers, US Consul General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates Mr. Justin Siberell, senior officials, dignitaries and diplomats, AUD’s Governing Board members, and family and friends of the graduates.

Four hundred and fifty four (454) undergraduate and graduate students from over 50 nationalities received their American-accredited degrees in the fields of Business Administration, Communication and Information Studies, Computer and Information Technology, Engineering, Interior Design, and Visual Communication. Notably, this year AUD graduated its first class of students from its Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication.

Graduation 2011 - Executive Vice President Elias N. Bou Saab
AUD's Executive Vice President Elias N. Bou Saab said in his opening remarks that the University Community was extremely honored with the presence of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed and his patronage of the University. Bou Saab spoke to the Class of 2011 "while we cannot give you any more homework assignments, allow me to make one last recommendation as you go into the world, read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, I believe it will inspire you; […] its essence is the following: You must never give up; You must accept responsibility, You must be willing to take a risk; You must be true to yourself; You must have courage; You must believe in yourself and what tomorrow may bring."

Amidst a flood of applause, Bou Saab then acknowledged the first graduates of the Mohamed Bin Rashid School for Communication, quoting H.H. Sheikh Mohammed’s encouraging words: “We believe that our youth are the backbone of the nation and the foundation on which to develop this noble civilization, unaffected by the wind of change, no matter how hard it blows.

Graduation 2011 - Keynote Speaker Mr. Robert Gibbs
Quite befitting the special occasion and particularly in celebrating the Mohammed Bin Rashid School’s first Communication graduates, the keynote speech was then delivered by Mr. Robert Gibbs, longtime Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama and 28th White House Press Secretary. His advice to the graduates was "to spend some time in the joy of today thinking about and thanking all of those that helped guide you to this important milestone in your life".

Gibbs praised the educational standards in the UAE and AUD, saying that “Dubai is a shining example of how this region can develop and thrive when there is space to create, space for innovation and commerce, with openness and a tolerance for others. This university is a testament to that very vision – […] – a place that understands the values of the community and yet celebrates and embraces the strength of its own diversity”.

In his conclusion, Gibbs inspired the graduates with these words “this world belongs to those with hope, knowledge and enthusiasm, to those who dream and wonder and seek to create a better world for us all… It belongs to you.”

Graduation 2011 - H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum



Like every year, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed personally conferred the degrees onto the students, honoring the graduates and wishing them success in their professional life. He also lauded AUD for being able to prepare capable and confident youth who are assuming prominent and leading positions in the UAE and abroad.

Graduation 2011 - Ms. Erin Burnett, Guest SpeakerGuest Speaker Ms. Erin Burnett, Anchor and Chief Business and Economics Correspondent at CNN thanked the University for giving her the opportunity to address the graduates and shared her studying experience and the challenges she faced then. She said this year, I’ve been mesmerized and frankly, in awe of the events here in the Middle East. […] Many of you will define what your countries become. I can only imagine what it feels like with the countries many of you grew up in changing irrevocably. But I know this: your education here at AUD has given you the power, confidence, and obligation to build a more prosperous region.

Burnett’s final advice to the graduates was take your experience here in Dubai to heart and keep dreaming big… Your countries are at a moment in history where you are needed... you are so lucky to be young and alive right now -- so seize the moment.

Graduation 2011 - Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jihad Nader



Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jihad Nader presented the departmental awards to the graduating students with the highest academic standing in their respective programs. He was joined by the Chairs and Deans of the different Departments and Schools at AUD.

    Graduation 2011 - MBA Award




  • The recipient of the Master of Business Administration Program Award was Mr. Vishnu Sankaran, presented by Dr. David Van Over, Dean of the School of Business Administration.





  • Graduation 2011 - BBA Award




  • The recipient of the Bachelor of Business Administration Program Award was Ms. Monica Aoun, presented by Dr. David Van Over, Dean of the School of Business Administration.





  • Graduation 2011 - BCIS Award



  • The recipient of the Bachelor of Communication and Information Studies Program Award was Ms. Nora Ashmawi, presented by Mr. Ali Jaber, Dean of the Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication.





  • Graduation 2011 - BS Engg Award




  • The recipient of the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Program Award was Mr. Jamal Azzeh, presented by Dr. Alaa Ashmawy, Dean of the School of Engineering.





  • Graduation 2011 - BSCIT Award




  • The recipient of the Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Technology Program Award was Mr. Alexander Fuchs, presented by Dr. Khalid Khawaja, Chair of the Computer and Information Technology Department.




  • Graduation 2011 - BFA ID Award




  • The recipient of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design Program Award was Ms. Behnaz Banishahabadi, presented by Dr. Nabyl Chenaf, Chair of the Interior Design Department.





  • Graduation 2011 - BFA VC Award




  • The recipient of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Program Award was Ms. Mashal Khan, presented by Mr. David Poindexter, Chair of the Visual Communication Department.




  • Graduation 2011: Valedictorian Award - Monica Aoun



  • The Valedictorian 2011 Award was presented by Dr. Jihad Nader, Provost and Chief Academic Officer to the graduating student with the highest academic standing Ms. Monica Aoun.






Graduation 2011 - Valedictorian Monica AounValedictorian Monica Aoun a Sheikh Mohammed Scholar, thanked His Highness by saying: I and many of us would not be here tonight if it weren’t for Your Highness, thank you for your generosity and your belief in the importance of education. As your scholars, we promise to make you proud!

She went on to say “there are plenty of challenges coming our way; […] however we are blessed and empowered…empowered with our education”.

Aoun quoted Nelson Mandela “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. It is now up to us to use this powerful weapon that AUD gave us in order to withstand all of the unknowns that tomorrow brings! We were offered quality education; […]. AUD has provided us with a home where we have formed a diverse community; now that I believe is an education on its own. She concluded Lady Gaga might think we were “Born this Way”, I believe we were Made this Way; Thank You AUD!

Graduation 2011 - President Dr. Lance de Masi


In his turn, AUD's President Dr. Lance de Masi thanked H.H. Sheikh Mohammed for lending patronage to the event and called on the graduates to always focus on gratitude for everything in life and to continue their pursuit of knowledge. He said “graduates, my advice to you today is to speak gratitude – the language of the heart that I hope you have mastered alongside engineering, business, journalism, IT, and design. Being grateful is at the core of being educated”.

President de Masi concluded the ceremony with “these final words as a final plea, I ask you to put the tools of knowledge and knowledge itself to constructive use. Confront the multitude of decisions along life’s journey with gratitude in your hearts – gratitude for the moment, for the past you have inherited, for the communities you share, and gratitude for all that you can be”.

Commencement Exercises 2011 Speeches
Opening Remarks - Mr. Elias N. Bou Saab, Executive Vice President
Keynote Speech - Mr. Robert Gibbs
Guest Speech - Ms. Erin Burnett
Valedictorian Speech - Ms. Monica Aoun
Closing Remarks - Dr. Lance Edward de Masi, President

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