New York University President John Sexton and NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Chancellor Alfred Bloom officiated at the University's inaugural commencement ceremony in Abu Dhabi today. Some 140 students from 49 countries received their undergraduate honors at the ceremony.
In attendance were His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed AlNahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE Ambassador to the United States; H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh, Cultural Advisor, Ministry of Presidential Affairs in the UAE; and H.E. Michael Corbin, the US Ambassador to the UAE.
Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States and founder of The Clinton Foundation, addressed the graduates.
"We are going to share the future, but the remaining job is to define the terms of our interdependence so that it is full of peace and prosperity and promise. Today there is both promise and peril. You represent the promise," President Clinton told the graduates.
Members of the Class of 2014 are moving on to remarkable opportunities in graduate studies, private enterprise, and the nonprofit sector. Many will remain in the UAE in a wide range of capacities, from education to business to entrepreneurial start-ups.
Sexton said: "Four years ago we set out to develop a new approach to higher education, merging Abu Dhabi's goal of becoming one of the world's great idea capitals with the ambitions of NYU's global network university. The young men and women who graduated today are proof that we have succeeded. Our hope is that they will take all that they have learned, go out into the world, and become the great leaders we know they can be. I have no doubt these first graduates of NYU Abu Dhabi are up to the task. On behalf of the faculty and staff of NYU and NYUAD, I offer my congratulations and best wishes to all our graduates. We are so proud of you."
Bloom said: "The Class of 2014 has been central to each of NYUAD's historic accomplishments. They took the risk to embrace the vision of NYUAD before there was an NYUAD and shaped a student culture that the world's best students want to join. They partnered with our faculty to create classroom, seminar, lab, and performative experiences. They mined the depth and breadth of our academic program and helped propel the new directions we would take. They ventured into Abu Dhabi and out to the world, bringing to life the distinctive educational power of a truly global university. And they will prove that the finest undergraduate education can prepare the leadership required for this century.”
Musbah Dilsebo Ormago, 23, who studied social research and public policy, said: "I chose to attend NYUAD to benefit from the diversity of thoughts, diversity of opinions, and the excellent education offered and led by some of the most revered and respected professors around the world. As I attended NYUAD, I learned a great deal about cosmopolitanism, tolerance, and the appreciation of others and their unique cultures, as well as understanding the merits and challenges of studying away from home."
Shamma Al Mazrui, 21, who graduated with a degree in economics with a concentration in finance and will study at Oxford University as an inaugural Rhodes Trust Falcon Scholar this fall, said: "The experience was like no other as it was a blending of learning at its best. I recollect coming to the university with a sense of uncertainty about the future and will never have the words to express the deep gratitude I feel for the faculty and staff who not only helped us get over that sense of uncertainty and insecurity, but also allowed us to develop our confidence and courage to face the future. The experience has forever inscribed in my nature the endless creativity that can be achieved through collective effort and I intend to bring this quality to help me adapt to any environment in my future endeavors."
NYUAD bestowed two honorary awards, the Global Leadership Award to President Clinton for his efforts to build a more responsible, just, and peaceful globe, and the Presidential Medal to H.E. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak in honor of his outstanding service to the University.
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.
In late August 2014, NYU Abu Dhabi's campus on Saadiyat Island will open its doors for the 2014-15 academic year.