It was made memorable by inspiring and touching speeches that were given by faculty, graduates, and the keynote speaker at the event that brought together families, friends, faculty and staff to celebrate the accomplishments of VCUQatar’s graduates.
Dr. Michael Rao, the President of Virginia Commonwealth University told the students: “I congratulate our Class of 2017. You offer fervent hope that the world can be whatever we imagine. I encourage you to think about how you can make the world more beautiful in ways big and small.”
The university conferred 50 Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees in fashion design, graphic design, interior design, painting and printmaking, and art history, and four Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in design. The 16th Commencement brings the number of VCUQatar alumni to 620.
Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, the Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. "VCU-Q has established a homegrown ecosystem right here in Doha - an ecosystem that promotes, develops and rewards innovation in art and design. The success of this mission is embodied in each member of the Class of 2017." Her Excellency said.
Each year at Commencement, special recognition is given to individuals whose careers and values have done much to enhance the quality of life of communities around the world. This year, VCUQatar presented the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Dana Shell Smith, United States Ambassador to the State of Qatar, for her ongoing commitment and support to Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, and for her overall dedication to being an advocate for Arts and Humanities.
“On behalf of Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, it is my pleasure to congratulate the class of 2017. Their hard work has driven them to the finish line of their studies at VCUQatar, and will push them towards the commencement of their professional careers, and the path to an endless array of possibilities. It is also a great honor to bestow upon U.S. Ambassador Dana Shell Smith, Virginia Commonwealth University’s highest form of recognition, the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. She has been a steadfast supporter of the arts and humanities, and remained dedicated to encouraging Qatar’s youth to read, write and think critically about important topics in society, while improving their English literacy skills through the Young Writers Program,” said Dr. Akel I. Kahera, the Dean of VCUQatar.
The Class of 2017 Valedictorian Alisha Rehan Saiyed, and Salutatorian Radheya A. Visperas gave a well-received and speech in which they thanked their families, fellow graduates, friends, faculty and staff.
“Remember that this is not the end, just the beginning. And if you work really hard and are lucky, you might find success. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find purpose. And when you have a purpose to pursue, your failures and successes no longer define you and they no longer hold you back,” Alisha told her fellow graduates.