An in-person Commencement ceremony marked the successes of the Class of 2022 at Multaqa in Qatar Foundation’s(QF’s) Education City.
Sixty six students from our Class of 2022 Art History, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Painting + Printmaking, and MFA programs, graduated this year.
The in-person celebration, held after a hiatus of two years, was suffused with the enthusiasm and energy of the graduating students, and congratulatory messages of faculty, staff, friends, and proud family members.
The Class of 2022 graduates include 18 Graphic Design students, 18 Interior Design students, nine Painting + Printmaking students, eight Art History students, eight Fashion Design students, and five MFA students.
The Commencement speaker was H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. His keynote speech was delivered by Fatma Al Jaidah, the Q22 Destination & Experience Director, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, on his behalf. Al Jaidah is also a VCUarts Qatar Class of 2007 graduate in graphic design.
As she delivered the keynote speech on H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi’s behalf, Al Jaidah also recalled her own time at VCUarts Qatar.
“Fifteen years ago, I was sat where you are today – eager and ready to go out into the world and pursue my passions and aspirations,” she told the assembled graduating class. “Using what I learned at VCU, I worked for different nation branding projects in Qatar – before eventually joining the organization in charge of delivering one of the most important chapters in the history of our country and our region – the FIFA World Cup.”
And she added, “We are full steam ahead as we race toward delivering what will be an amazing FIFA World Cup later this year (…). Our vision for the FIFA World Cup has always had one thing at its heart: legacy. The World Cup itself will bring an unprecedented number of visitors to Qatar (…). But the legacy that’s left behind can only be judged when the final whistle blows and the football finishes.
“And the most important part of any legacy is people. People like you – the class of 2022. You are our future leaders, artists, designers, and creative minds. You represent the best of Qatar and what we have to offer, and through your journey at VCU, have without a doubt, gained the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to contribute to the continued development of our country. The art and design knowledge and skills you have gained at VCU must continue to guide you wherever you go next in life and unlocking new horizons of creativity and innovation should continue to be your ultimate goal, much like we as a country have done in bidding and planning for hosting the FIFA World Cup.”
The event was attended by VCUarts Qatar’s Dean Amir Berbić, senior leadership of VCUarts Qatar, the chairs and deans of the University’s many programs and departments, faculty, and staff. The ceremony was also attended by guests from VCUarts Qatar’s renowned home campus, Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCUarts), in Richmond, US. They included Dr. Michael Rao, President, VCU; Dr. Carmenita Higginbotham, Dean, VCUarts, and Dr. Scott Breuninger, Dean, The Honors College, VCU, all who shared special messages congratulating the graduating Class of 2022.
“We welcomed you because we knew how truly amazing you would become,” VCUarts Qatar’s Dean Berbić told the assembled students. “We also know that the best is yet to come as you embark on the next exciting stage of your journey. There will be many uncertainties as you step out into the world, but bravely facing uncertainties is what art and design school graduates excel at. After all this, all of you came through arguably one of the greatest higher education challenges ever because of the pandemic. And yet you thrived!
“You may notice that the best parts of life at VCUarts Qatar will follow you—in that you’ll never stop learning, and you’ll never stop taking on new challenges. Your experiences at VCUQ were formative, molding and unforgettable. Remember how you made new friends and how you supported and influenced each other? This is not a parting of the ways, but a strengthening of bonds. Remember your friends and keep them close. They will last a lifetime. And remember your professors too! Stay in touch with them because they will always be your greatest supporters. They will always be willing to give advice and be delighted to hear your stories and cheer you on!”
Dr. Michael Rao, President, VCU, Richmond, reminded the graduating students about the significance of being part of the VCU family.
"I’ve spent the past year thinking a lot about what we really mean when we talk about our “ONE VCU” family. It means that in everything we do – everything in a large, strategic sense – we think of ourselves as one place, one entity, one vision. What we do in Richmond parallels what we do here in Doha – and vice versa. That’s why it is always important to us to be in Doha, to be present for your graduation. You are graduating into a family that is much larger than the excellent faculty and administrators you know here, and larger than your class. The VCU family is worldwide,” he said.
The emotions of the new graduates – as they shared the ups and downs of their journey at VCUarts Qatar – was captured by co-Valedictorian and Graphic Design graduate Gayatri Maelathil who said, “These past four years have changed me, my life. I have grown to become more confident, passionate, and mature, both as a human being and as a designer, as I explored leadership roles, amazing projects and networked with the creative community.”
She added, “These four years were not easy. It would have been impossible to cope without my family’s support and belief in my abilities, especially during the pandemic-induced lockdown, ‘burnouts’ and finals week. My friends made my undergraduate days not just enjoyable but more importantly, a safe space where we bonded over shared struggles and successes. My professors’ advice and support in my creative journey shaped the designer I am today, and I’m grateful for their expertise, enthusiasm, and humor, all of which truly elevated my love for learning.”
Noof Al-Naama, Class of 2022, Interior Design, was the other co-Valedictorian. She said, “Everything from doing an internship at an interior design firm, through the participation in extracurricular activities such as the Ajyal 2021 art exhibition, Katara’s “Sketch” exhibition, to designing Total’s tennis logo that will be used for the next three years – all these have contributed to the person I am today.
“Studying design at VCUarts Qatar defined my path, not only in terms of interior design styles but also in fine art. Through my three-year journey studying interior design, I discovered my fondness to the art of sketching. During my creative journey, I was able to find the balance between the past and the future, where the Qatari values remain preserved while keeping in mind the developments the country is witnessing.”
The Class of 2022
The Class of 2022 celebrate graduating by throwing their hats in the air
Dean Amir Berbić addressing the Class of 2022
Dr. Michael Rao, President, VCU, Richmond addressing the Class of 2022
Fatma Al Jaidah addressing the Class of 2022
Class of 2022 Co-Valedictorians Gayatri Maelathil and Noof Al-Naama