President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s First Elected Female President and Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology, will speak at NYU Abu Dhabi’s virtual celebration of the Class of 2021 on Saturday, May 22.
Former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will offer keynote remarks. President Sirleaf won international acclaim for leading Liberia through the Ebola Crisis and the reconciliation and recovery process that followed her nation’s decade-long civil war. As Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state, and Liberia’s first female president, she is credited with achieving dramatic economic, social, and political change culminating in Liberia’s first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in 73 years.
President Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2011 for her achievements as a global leader for women’s empowerment. She is also the recipient of The Presidential Medal of Freedom—the United States’ highest civilian award. On stepping down from the presidency in a peaceful and democratic transfer of power in 2018, she became the first woman honored with the Mo Ibrahim Prize, considered the most prestigious award for African leaders. In 2019, President Sirleaf was appointed as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Ambassador for the Health Workforce.
UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri will also offer remarks to the graduating class. Al Amiri works to promote research and development in the advanced science and technology sector, fostering new industries that drive the shift towards a knowledge economy while guiding the ambitious space sector and ensuring its contribution to the UAE’s sustainable development. Al Amiri also worked on the Emirates Mars Mission, which made history this year with the UAE Hope probe successfully entering orbit around Mars. Additionally, Al Amiri is currently the Chairwoman of the Emirates Scientists Council, Chairwoman of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Council, and Chairwoman of the Dubai Future Academy Board of Trustees. She served as the Deputy Project Manager and Science Lead of the Emirates Mars Mission at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) before being appointed Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency.
NYU Abu Dhabi’s graduating class comprises some 320 students from more than 75 countries and speaking over 70 languages.
Class of 2021 student Malak Abdel-Ghaffar will speak on behalf of the graduating class. Originally from Egypt, Abdel-Ghaffar is majoring in Literature and Creative Writing with minors in Social Research and Public Policy and Visual Arts. Emirati student Maitha AlSuwaidi who was recently selected as a UAE Rhodes Scholar will also offer brief welcome remarks.
The virtual ceremony will feature a video tribute to the Class of 2021, as well as awards and accolades including the inaugural NYUAD Piano Prize, the Global Leadership Award, and the NYUAD Distinguished Alumni Award, as well as the Ceremony of the Torch. The NYU torch, symbolizing “academic purpose and authority,” has been an integral part of NYU's identity since 1911, and a part of its commencement ceremonies since 1938.
This ceremony will be NYUAD’s eighth Commencement since graduating its inaugural class in 2014.