Class of 2019 Graduates Honored at NYU Abu Dhabi’s Sixth Commencement Ceremony

Students from more than 75 countries graduated at a ceremony held at NYU Abu Dhabi’s campus on Saadiyat Island

Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) held its sixth graduation ceremony, celebrating the remarkable achievements, creative spirit, and academic passion of the Class of 2019. Degrees were conferred to some 275 students from over 75 countries at the ceremony that took place on the University’s campus on Saadiyat Island.

Chair of the NYU Board of Trustees William R. Berkley, NYU President Andrew Hamilton, and NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Chancellor Al Bloom officiated the ceremony. The event was attended by over 1,400 guests and was live streamed to audiences around the globe.

Former White House official, Paralympic ski medalist, Fortune 500 business consultant, Rhodes Scholar, and best-selling author Bonnie St. John offered the keynote address to the graduating class. In her remarks, she commented on the unique educational experience offered by NYUAD, saying, “Education is so much about conversation, and what you learn from each other. And to have 10 students in a room and have 10 countries represented is a very different conversation than what most students around the world are having. This is a truly extraordinary place that has been created.”

You are the change. You are what’s different in the world, what’s needed in the world today … You will fall down and you will get up again. Sometimes you will get up fast, but sometimes it will take a season to get up … You won’t always look like you’re changing the world but trust me, you are.

Commencement speaker Bonnie St. John

During their four years, the Class of 2019, the largest NYUAD class to graduate to date, has excelled in academic and extracurricular pursuits, earning top honors, including Rhodes Scholarships, UAE Fulbright Award, Schwarzman Scholarships, and the University’s first Luce Scholarship, among others.

The class has participated in student clubs, athletic teams, and engaged with the Abu Dhabi community. Graduates have interned at some of the world’s most respected organizations, including CNN, Google, HSBC, IBM, the Jane Goodall Institute, Mubadala, Special Olympics, The Museum of Modern Art, UNESCO, and World Bank.


I said earlier that a willingness to take risks, ambition, and creativity were essential to NYU’s successful trajectory. Class of 2019, I’d argue that those same qualities will also be essential to your own trajectory – the trajectory of your lives. Luckily, as NYU Abu Dhabi students, you have had abundant opportunities to develop them. You needed all three qualities to become students here, just as you needed all three to succeed here. And you have succeeded brilliantly. To the Class of 2019, wherever on the globe life takes you, know that all of us at NYU are proud of you.

NYU President Andrew Hamilton

Marking his last Commencement ceremony as Vice Chancellor of NYUAD, Al Bloom said, “Graduates, we celebrate each of you who will walk across this stage tonight prepared for stunning success in your careers, equipped for wise and effective response to the world’s most pressing challenges, and ready to open your hearts and minds across a world of increasingly fractious divides, to build a more responsible, inclusive, cooperative, and peaceful globe. These habits of person and mind – intellectual, social, and ethical – represent the core achievements of the finest education, and will make your alma mater, those who know you and come to know you, and you yourselves, justly proud.”

These habits of person and mind – intellectual, social, and ethical – represent the core achievements of the finest education, and will make your alma mater, those who know you and come to know you, and you yourselves, justly proud.

Vice Chancellor Al Bloom

For more than half of the Class of 2019, their next step will be to start new jobs and begin applying all they’ve learned in their time at NYU Abu Dhabi to the workforce. Many of the graduates have chosen to remain in the UAE at organizations including Emaar Properties, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and the Shearman & Sterling Global Law Firm, while others will travel across the globe to pursue opportunities in technology, government, the creative industries, engineering, finance, law, policy, and other areas. Others will go onto further study and have already been accepted to graduate programs in disciplines spanning public health, computer science, psychology, public policy, education, and film. Many will be studying for degrees at the world’s leading institutions including Harvard University, Columbia University, Paris School of Economics, University of Oxford, Maastricht University, and Tsinghua University.

Class of 2019 student speaker Rayan Elsharkawi said: “While there was no singular NYUAD journey, our values, whether we developed them in [buildings] A2 or A6, on the football field or in Capstone corner, in the superlab or in the Black Box, have constructed our shared experience. This nation’s leaders have further strengthened our values by bringing all of us together in this Year, more like Years of Tolerance … While NYUAD’s mission is to foster the next generation of global leaders, I hope you also make NYUAD the blueprint of all forthcoming change. Our University is a microcosm of what global societies should strive to attain, but also it consists of all of us, tiny specs from all around the world, who bring the best from their home countries, to make this liberal arts education at the forefront of tackling global issues.”


We all arrived here from different walks of life. We brought our cultures, our stories, our perspectives, and our beliefs into this environment. NYUAD encouraged us to be curious, critical thinkers, and courageous. And that I think is what we’re going to walk away with.

Emirati graduate and 2019 UAE Rhodes Scholar Majida Al Maktoum

The Class of 2019 is NYU Abu Dhabi’s sixth graduating class since its inaugural Commencement in 2014.

Learn more about the Class of 2019. Watch the video of the full Commencement ceremony.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.