NNA - Haigazian University held its 59th commencement exercises, on Friday, May 24th, 2019, in a beautiful atmosphere of joy, pride and ovation, sometimes mixed with moments of high emotion.
130 bachelor and master degrees were conferred to undergraduates and graduates in the Faculties of Business Administration and Economics, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities and Sciences.
Minister of Tourism Avedis Guidanian was there to represent both the President of the Republic Gen. Michel Aoun and the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri, Member of Parliament Hagop Pakradounian represented the Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berry. Among the attendees were Minister of Social Affairs, Richard Kouyoumjian representing the Head of the Lebanese Forces Dr. Samir Geagea, Member of Parliament Gen. Jean Talouzian, Prelate of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchy, Bishop George Assadourian, and international businessman and entrepreneur Rouben Vardanyan. The capacity audience also included a host of representatives of the Lebanese Army, Armenian and Lebanese political parties, religious leaders, Armenian and foreign diplomats, members of the Board of Trustees, community leaders, and representatives of educational institutions, parents, relatives and friends.
The auspicious ceremony started on the notes of the traditional Pomp and Circumstance by Sir Edward Elgar, whereby faculty proceeded with the celebratory processional march in their traditional academic regalia of caps, gown and hoods, followed by graduates. After the Lebanese National Anthem, the prayer of invocation was offered by Campus Minister, Rev. Wilbert Van Saane.
Expressing his pride in the graduating class, University President Paul Haidostian acknowledged the unwavering efforts and dedication of the parents, asking the audience to give them a hearty applause.
In his address, Haidostian thoroughly tackled the notion of "higher education", and all the challenges related thereto. "Higher education is not mainly the status, that is above others, but rather a higher understanding of matters, a higher degree of personal refinement, a higher level of understanding of the world and its underpinnings, a higher ability for adjustment in times of change, a higher appreciation for the weak, a higher admiration for the more experienced, a higher ambition to develop, a higher acceptance of one's own limitations, and a higher respect for the other", Haidostian said.
He went further to explain the feeling of "estrangement" associated with higher education, while the eventual purpose of it is to have the educated "feel at home". In this respect, he invited all graduates to "to continue searching for the heights, while seeking to feel at home with your mind and soul, and with those who surround you."
Haidostian concluded his speech by reiterating the ongoing mission of Haigazian University during the past 64 years in being "the home for the estranged on many levels", asking the graduates to "wherever they go help people feel at home intellectually, spiritually, and physically".
In her inspiring keynote speech, the Representative of the UNHCR in Lebanon, Ms. Mireille Girard addressed the graduating class by sharing her past experiences and insights within the United Nations.
Girard engaged the fresh graduates to examine their options for the future, and encouraged them to make choices that will contribute to the common good and to actively commit themselves to work towards prosperity and exchanges among people and communities - choices that in the long run will not only lead to personal fulfilment, but also positively impact their wider environment and contribute to a more cohesive and peaceful world.
Girard concluded her speech by giving a hearty advice, saying, "today, as you are graduating and starting your voyage through life, you have two paths ahead: One that is to focus on the development of a fulfilling career, working your way up to your highest professional expectations - and this is a perfectly legitimate choice. But the other one is to do so by continuously keeping in mind - in everything that you do and undertake - that sense of common good, upholding the values that the diverse and rich culture of the Levant has fostered so uniquely. It might be a more challenging path, but it is surely worth it."
The graduates then were called to collect their diplomas from the University President, helped by the deans Fadi Asrawi and Arda Ekmekji.
With a sense of pride and accomplishment, valedictory Ohanes Ashekian and Mohamad Al Atat expressed their deep gratitude to all the parents, University faculty and staff, acknowledging all their efforts and investment in shaping and equipping them to embark on their new phase of life. Speaking to their peers, Ashekian also wanted to thank his fellow graduates, saying "let's thank one another for creating strong bonds that have played a great role in the gradual process of our growth." He further shared the main values he acquired at Haigazian University, that of "tolerance, respect, kindness and empathy". For his part, Al Atat highly lauded the special approach and bond between faculty and students, as well as he called on his fellow graduates to exemplify the motto of the University "Truth, Freedom and Service", in their future endeavors.
The ceremony concluded by singing the Alma Mater, followed by the benediction offered by the President of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, Rev. Mgrdich Karageozian.
With loud cheers graduates threw their caps high into the air, thus joyfully marking the end of a four-year journey and confidently anticipating the commencement of a new beginning.