09 May 2023
VCUarts Qatar Holds Commencement for Class of 2023
Latest cohort of graduates and their families, along with faculty and staff, celebrate their success
VCUarts Qatar held the Commencement ceremony for its graduating Class of 2023 at Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Multaqa Students Center in Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Education City, on May 8.
Sixty four students from the Art History, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Painting + Printmaking and MFA programs, graduated from the art and design university, this year.
The stars of the evening were the graduating students who took their places in the hall, surrounded and applauded by proud family members and friends. The enthusiasm and energy of these students were mirrored by the University’s faculty members and staff who could be seen excitedly sharing congratulatory messages, posing for photographs and chatting with students’ families.
The Class of 2023 graduates include 19 Graphic Design students, 20 Interior Design students, six Painting + Printmaking students, seven Art History students, five Fashion Design students, and seven MFA students.
The dignitaries who attended the ceremony included Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson, Qatar Museums, and senior representatives of Doha Film Institute, Reach Out to Asia, and Qatar Leadership Centre.
The Commencement Speaker was Shaikha Hanadi bint Nasser Al Thani. Shaikha Hanadi Nasser Al Thani is widely recognized as an outstanding Qatari business leader with a vision to establish new businesses benefiting the progress and well-being of the Qatari society and creating opportunities for female entrepreneurs. She is on the board of trustees of Junior Achievement Worldwide, as Chairperson of “INJAZ AL Arab” the regional arm of “Junior Achievement Worldwide and she is the Founding Chairperson of Injaz Qatar.
In an inspiring speech grounded in reality and personal experience, Shaikha Hanadi reminded the graduates of the need to “dream big” and “embrace challenges”.
She said, “As an economist, you may wonder why I stand before you today. It is because I believe that creativity, when paired with discipline and persistence, leads to greatness. The renowned economist John Maynard Keynes once said, "The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones." My life and career have revolved around this quote.
“I was sitting in your seat not too long ago. I knew I had earned a degree in a discipline I loved, I knew I had energy and ambition, I knew I wanted to cause a dent in the universe, I knew I had to work hard to matter – but I had no idea on what I should be doing next. Maybe this is a feeling shared by some of you here today.
“One thing I had no doubt about was that I had to Dream Big. And in order to be able to Dream Big, you have to have solid roots anchored in knowing yourself.
“In this fast-paced and competitive world, the foundation of success is in bettering yourself, your skills and becoming a lifelong learner. You see as Socrates most adequately puts it “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” The more you seek knowledge, the more you understand that there is so much more of it you need. Only then can you Dream big.”
“Class of 2023 (…) As you embark on the next chapter of your lives, remember that there is no perfect job, and no career path is without challenges. Embrace those challenges, learn from them, and grow. As you leave the nurturing embrace of VCUarts Qatar, I urge you to remain committed, curious, and courageous.
“Qatar is a nation that embraces challenges, fosters unity, and celebrates creativity. You, the graduating class of VCUarts Qatar, will continue this legacy.”
From VCUarts Qatar, the University’s Dean, Amir Berbić; Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Cherif Amor; Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Dr. Katherine Wildman; the Deans, Directors, Associate Deans and Chairs of the University’s many departments and programs, and faculty and staff, were present to mark the occasion.
VCUarts Qatar’s Dean Berbić said, “You are graduating into a world that is wholly different from when your journey at VCUarts Qatar began.
“You should be incredibly proud of everything you’ve accomplished in the last four years when the world itself was starting a new chapter of its own. Now, it is up to you to take ownership of the opportunities that await you in this environment.
“The FIFA World-cup in Qatar showed us that it takes designers, artists, storytellers and creators to shape meaningful and profound experiences -- take a moment to appreciate how you are uniquely positioned to take the creative reins in this country while the legacy of an incredible World Cup is still fresh – indeed, your time is now.”
The event was also attended by guests from VCUarts Qatar’s renowned home campus, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCUarts), in Richmond, US. They included Dr. Michael Rao, President, VCU; Dr. Carmenita Higginbotham, Dean and Special Assistant to the Provost, VCUarts, and Dr. Scott Breuninger, Dean, The Honors College, VCU, all of whom shared special messages congratulating the graduating Class of 2023.
Dr. Michael Rao, President, VCU, said, “As graduates, you are already success stories – you’ve achieved an enormous milestone here today. You’ve worked hard to get to this important and momentous occasion in your lives. We are all grateful that you did, because the world needs your creative design more than ever.
“Good design makes our lives better. Helping people understand the world around them, and navigate it more easily, is as vitally important as anything else we do. That’s why we have worked together to prepare you not just to be designers, or artists – or doctors, or engineers, or teachers. We’ve educated you to be deep thinkers. We’ve educated you to be the leading innovators of the world. You will be creating the future – for yourselves, for Qatar, for the world.”
Valedictorian and Graphic Design senior Fatima Nazir spoke on behalf of her peers when she said, “One of the most valuable lessons we learn during our time at VCUarts Qatar is to "trust the process." Designing is a challenging field that often requires a lot of articulation and experimentation, but through patience and a willingness to explore new ideas, we have been able to push our limits and create some of our best works.”
Reflecting on her personal journey at VCUarts Qatar, she added, “As a student of Graphic Design at VCUarts Qatar, I have learned that design is not just about creating visually appealing work, but it is a complex and multidisciplinary field that requires critical thinking, research, making, collaboration and cultural literacy. I am particularly interested in visual narrative and storytelling. I hope to use my design skills to craft compelling stories and share them with the world that engages and captivates audiences and resonates with people.
VCUarts Qatar has prepared me well for this next step in my journey, and I am excited to see where it takes me.”
Photographs by Raviv Cohen.