Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi urges graduates to act as ambassadors for tolerance

NYUAD Commencement 2017
Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi celebrated its fourth graduation ceremony today honoring the exemplary achievement, intellectual passion, and initiative of the Class of 2017. 165 students from 64 countries were conferred degrees at the ceremony that took place on the University’s campus on Saadiyat Island.

In the presence of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah; His Highness Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council; and His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Advisor to the UAE President; NYU Board Chair William R. Berkley, NYU President Andrew Hamilton, and NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Chancellor Al Bloom officiated at the Commencement, which was attended by approximately 1,300 guests.

Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Cabinet Member and the UAE’s Minister of State for Tolerance, offered remarks to the graduating class and was presented with the NYU Abu Dhabi Global Leadership Award, recognizing her outstanding commitment to the University and to society.

Sheikha Lubna said: “As I look at this region, and the world today, I ask you to be courageous. To have the courage to coexist, while others seek division. To have the courage to believe in a positive future, even while others are fatalist. I ask you to be ambassadors for tolerance, wherever you are.”

Her Excellency added: “You have more opportunity than any generation before to understand the world, to engage the world, and to change the world. Be ready to use this smartphone superpower you all have not just to be connected, but to truly connect. And never let anyone say you can’t do what you set your heart on. You have received an exceptional education in global citizenship. It is now how you use it that makes a difference.”

During their four years, the Class of 2017 has excelled in both academic and extracurricular pursuits. It has created student clubs, athletic groups, and built ties with the Abu Dhabi community. Graduates have interned at some of the world’s most respected organizations, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Ministry of Finance in the UAE, European Parliament, United Nations, World Bank, Solar Energy Foundation, American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology, CNN, and The New York Times.

NYU President Hamilton said: “You are a group of extraordinary people who have received an extraordinary education. As you embark on the next leg of your journey, keep your curiosity, your creativity, your thoughtfulness, your sense of adventure, and yes, your idealism. These are the qualities that led you to NYU Abu Dhabi, that grew even stronger while you studied here, and that will guide you to make your fullest contribution to the world post-graduation.”

Vice Chancellor Bloom said: “Class of 2017, your NYU Abu Dhabi education has prepared you to embrace the world in global terms, to explore it not only from your own but also from others’ points of view, and to draw from those multiple perspectives your own examined sense of right action and of the priorities to set. In other words, your NYUAD education has nurtured in you the intellectual and ethical habits of mind prerequisite to an inclusive world.”

For more than half of the Class of 2017, their next step will be to start new jobs and begin applying all they’ve learned in their time at NYU Abu Dhabi. Many of them have chosen to remain in the United Arab Emirates, while others will travel across the globe to pursue opportunities at educational fellowships, technology giants, innovative startups, major financial institutions, arts organizations, and research firms. Some are starting their careers at Emaar, Citi, EY Parthenon, JP Morgan Chase, while others forge their own path as they pursue freelance work in New York and grow their own business in Tokyo.

Many will go on to further study, and have already been accepted to graduate programs in disciplines spanning architecture and urbanism, transportation and engineering, international security, law, economics, social and international policy and development, healthcare, writing, poetry, and the sciences. They are studying for degrees at the world's preeminent institutions including Harvard Law, London School of Economics, Georgetown, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Columbia University, Oxford, Stanford, Sciences Po, University of Chicago, Paris School of Economics, and University of New South Wales.

Class of 2017 student speaker Nafisatou Mounkaila, who majored in Arab Crossroads Studies said: “The question now is: what will we do with what we have? This is one of our many beginnings. This is where we can start to show that we care about something other than ourselves. It’s not about papers and GPAs and Capstones anymore, no, it’s about understanding our impact potential. We have a responsibility and we owe it to those around us, globally and more urgently locally, to care.”

Emirati student Dubai Abulhoul, who majored in Political Science said: “While today marks the closing of a chapter, it does not mark the end of our story. In fact, we will simply be moving from one diverse place to the next, hopping from one narrative to another, forever bound by our collective experience of tolerance and coexistence.”

Learn more about the Class of 2017: nyuad.nyu.edu/class2017