Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown compels graduates to live a life of selfless-service by ‘humbly helping others’

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Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi celebrated its second graduation ceremony today, with the conferral of degrees to 141 students from 53 countries. New York University President John Sexton and NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Chancellor Alfred Bloom officiated at the commencement, which was attended by approximately 1,300 guests and held in Abu Dhabi at the University’s Saadiyat Island campus.
In the presence of H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, offered remarks to the students and was presented with the NYU Abu Dhabi Global Leadership Award, recognizing his outstanding commitment to the University and to society.

Also in attendance was H.E. Barbara A. Leaf, the US Ambassador to the UAE.

Former UK Prime Minister The Right Honorable Gordon Brown, addressed the graduating class of 2015. In remarks to the graduates, faculty members, colleagues and visiting dignitaries, the Rt Hon Brown extolled graduates to live a life of selfless-service, and to lead by example.

Mr. Brown said: “The students I see here today, you are notably the leaders of tomorrow – the scientists, the engineers, the doctors, the nurses, the politicians, the philosophers, the academics of the future. Leadership is not just about getting, it’s about giving. And it’s also not just about commanding people; it’s about convincing people. Your purpose as leaders has got to be to convince people that there are great causes you want them to follow with you.”

Mr. Brown added: “My experience is that you will find true happiness not in hedonism, but in humbly helping others. My experience is that you will find true satisfaction not in self-indulgence, but in a lifetime of selfless-service to your communities. My experience is that your strength will be demonstrated not by being better than others or triumphing over others, but in subjugating your own personal desires to some of the great causes of our time.”

NYUAD bestowed two Global Leadership Awards at the ceremony. In addition to His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan, the award was also presented to the Rt Hon Brown, for his work to improve access to education for children around the world.

President Sexton said: “Four years ago, these students made a commitment to help pioneer a new model of education and join an institution that had not yet produced a single graduate. The successes of the young men and women who graduated today, this remarkable group of trailblazers and global citizens, are proof that the world is ready for a new global educational idea to unfold, inspired by the model offered by NYU and NYU Abu Dhabi. On behalf of the faculty and staff of this great institution I offer my heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to all our graduates. We are so proud of you.”

Vice Chancellor Bloom said: “The Class of 2015 arrived at this remarkable institution at the start of its second year. Ahead of them lay the challenge of converting an explosion of creativity and promise into an institution able to constantly recharge its energy, sustain its innovative power, and translate its founding aspirations in the distinctive qualities for a global century. Today, I’m proud to say that the Class of 2015 has exceeded even those high expectations. In an inconceivably brief period of time, the intensity of their academic dedication and the power and creativity of its results have established recognition not only of their individual and collective talents, but of the excellence of an NYU Abu Dhabi education here and around the world.”

During their four years, the Class of 2015 succeeded in both academic and extracurricular pursuits. Highlights of their academic accomplishments include: two Rhodes Scholarships; a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant; a Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld Scholarships and Leadership Programme grant; the William Berkley Scholarship; top honors at the NYU Global Debate Challenge competition; and the NYU President’s Service Medal.

Kimberly Rodriguez, 22, who graduated with a degree in Political Science, told her fellow graduates: “Today marks a shift – a momentous one, mind you – in our young lives, but it is not the time to start fresh. If we look at the next chapter as a blank slate, then I dare say that we won’t be giving justice to the experiences that we have cultivated in this one-of-a-kind social experiment. So, let us not look at today as a new beginning, but as the beginning of our building upon the unique foundation that the last four years have constructed for us.”

Collectively, the class has already been accepted to more than 70 master’s and doctoral programs in disciplines spanning astrophysics, dance, economics, engineering, nuclear chemistry, literature, psychology, social work and speech pathology, and to medical and law schools, including Harvard, the London School of Economics, NYU, Oxford, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale. Several graduating students have also already received job offers from renowned local and global companies and public sector employers, such as: The Crown Prince Court Abu Dhabi, AECOM, J.Walter Thompson, Citibank, Johnson & Johnson, among others.

Emirati student Hamel Al Qubaisi, 21, who graduated with a degree in Political Science and is one of two graduates who will study at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, said: “Choosing NYU Abu Dhabi was not a difficult decision for me because I believed in the vision. I saw merit in the idea of bringing in people from all over the world – over 100 nationalities so far – to peacefully live together and learn together. Four years later, NYUAD has proved to me that when we take the initiative to learn from each other and listen to each others' hopes, interests, and aspirations, we gain the knowledge to avoid choosing conflict as the only means to resolve our differences. And isn't that an exciting prospect?”

Mohit Mandal, 22, who graduated with a degree in Social Research and Public Policy, said: “Over the past four years I've received an education in more ways than I can count: I've learnt from my friends, from listening to others, from travelling to new places, from trying new things. I loved that, at NYUAD, I never felt restricted to my major -- some of my most memorable college experiences come from outside of the classroom."

NYU Abu Dhabi is the outcome of a shared understanding between NYU and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. As the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university, together with government partners, NYU Abu Dhabi has been successful in establishing an education opportunity that enables students to think creatively, understand complex problems and social issues, develop leadership skills, and realize their potential.