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08 May, 2010

VCUQatar 2010 Commencement Ceremony

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar held its 2010 Commencement Ceremony on 8 May at the Ritz Carlton Doha, conferring 41 Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in fashion, graphic and interior design.

Two students from VCU Richmond walked with VCUQatar’s 39 graduating students at the ceremony. The 9th Commencement brings the number of VCUQatar alumni to 262.

“I would like to congratulate our graduates on their many achievements,” say VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone. They are all entering a field that has become an increasingly global profession, and we are proud to say that our students have been educated and equipped to be leaders in addressing the design issues that challenge the world today and tomorrow. With the unequivocal support of a great leader and role model, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned, they are prepared to participate in building the nation and region while contributing their voice to initiatives throughout the world,” she added.

The ceremony marks the culmination of four years of hard work and perseverance on the part of the graduates. They have spent their time at VCUQatar fulfilling an intensive and rigorous curriculum, one designed to foster not just first-rate designers but well-rounded individuals prepared for the challenges and responsibilities of a highly complex professional world. Students, their families, friends, faculty and staff came together to celebrate VCUQatar graduates’ accomplishments and rejoice in their venture into the professional field as they take their expertise and innovations to every area of design.

Rodney Fitch, founder and chairperson of Fitch Worldwide, delivered the commencement address to the 41 graduates during the afternoon ceremonies. Mr. Fitch’s work delivering ‘consumer experience’ in the retail environment is acknowledged the world over. He has also been active in the development of design education and the arts in the UK. VCUQatar students have worked closely with Fitch Qatar over the years as interns and on several collaborative projects. Shortly after Mr. Fitch delivered his address, the President of VCU Dr. Michael Rao invited Dr. Fitch back to the podium to confer upon him the Honorary Doctorate. Dr. Rao was joined by VCU Rector, The Honorable Anne Rhodes, in the presentation while Vice Provost for International affairs and Dean of the Virginia Schools of Arts Dr. Richard E. Toscan and VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone performed the hooding ceremony.

VCU President, Dr. Michael Rao addressed the graduating students during the ceremony. “Your faculty and I are delighted to congratulate you on achieving the honor that comes with earning a degree from VCU School of the Arts,” said Dr. Rao. Dr. Rao added VCUQatar was established in 1998 in partnership with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development in support of the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned to create a world-class center of educational excellence within the Arabian Gulf region. “We are proud to provide a world-class design education that has helped to create successful graduates who are already contributing to the growth of Qatar,” he continued. “Your professional and personal journey has prepared you to be a design leader of tomorrow. Trendsetting and innovation are key words here in Doha and you will be the innovators shaping your country and the region. I am confident that you will contribute to the design of Qatar’s future.” he said in his concluding statement.

“The mother of a beautiful daughter, Gabriela, and the wife of a wonderful man, Jose, the desire to become an Interior Designer has been part of my life since I can remember,” said Interior Design graduate and Valedictorian Elba Gabriela Leon Nava. “Today thanks to VCUQatar my life-long dream just became true. I wanted to create spaces that provide people with the experiences and feelings that inspire their lives. During these four years VCUQatar has prepared me to do so, given me the knowledge, tools and opportunities to develop not only my talent, but a sense of doing it with responsibility and respect for our planet and people. VCUQatar moved us from the back seats to the very front line. We are not the future anymore; we are the present, the here and now. Congratulations Class 2010.”

Graphic Design Class Marshal Asma Thani Al Thani said VCUQatar was truly a place of experimentation, discovery and making. “VCUQatar was a turning point in my life, opening a wide realm of possibilities that will lead to positive changes for the future. I learned a great deal throughout the years not only of design but also about myself as a designer. I am very honored and grateful to have been given the chance to join my amazing classmates and instructors in this journey towards knowledge. With VCUQatar we realized that the sky has no limits, and the class of 2010 is ready for the challenges coming next,” she said.

Interior Design Class Marshal Buthayna Abdulla Al- Thawadi said she was honored to be a VCUQatar graduate. “VCUQatar exceeded all my expectations of higher education. This esteemed university has opened many doors for my career in interior design. The students at VCUQatar are challenged and encouraged to reach their full potential, broadening their horizons and making them among the very best in their respective fields. For this experience I am very grateful,” she said.

Fashion Design Class Marshal Joanna Birutė Milaszius-Dallimore said, “We made it! We are strong, independent, talented and conscientious. We believe we can make a difference. We take fashion seriously, and we have fun with it.” She said she was honored to be a part of such a diverse group of gifted young women. “We have learned so much in our years at VCUQatar; from our professors and from each other. We have laughed together, cried together, challenged ourselves and one other and even from time to time fought with each other, but we have always forgiven one another. We were classmates, have become sisters and one day will be colleagues. We are the future of fashion, we are the class of 2010.”

The other luminaries present for the ceremony included Dr. Saif Al Hajari, vice chairperson of Qatar Foundation; Joint Advisory Board members - Mohamed Zakariya, Zakariya Calligraphy, Dr. Richard Toscan, dean of the VCU School of the Arts and vice provost International Affairs, VCUQatar, Dr. Roger Mandle, executive director of the Qatar Museums Authority, H.E. Dr. Hamad bin Nasser Al Thani, general manager of the Qatar Development Bank, Dr. Ahmed Al Hasnah, associate vice president for Education, Qatar Foundation; Board of Visitors - Rector of VCU Board of Visitors, the Honorable Anne Rhodes, Dr. Michele Romano, Thomas Rosenthal, Stuart Seigel and guests from VCU Richmond - Monica Rao, VCU International Alumni Relations liaison, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Jack Risley and Dean of the Honors College, Timothy Hulsey.

The new VCUQatar graduates will join the band of 223 alumni who have gone on to successfully establish their own businesses or take up jobs in various positions in Education City, the semi-government and private sectors and ministries in Qatar. VCUQatar continues to pave the path for students that will take them far on the innovation road.

VCUQatar’s Class of 2010 with VCU President Dr. Michael Rao, VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone, VCUQatar Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs Peter Chomowicz and VCUQatar Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Valerie Jeremijenko