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Sharjah Ruler announces expansion plans for American University of Sharjah at Spring 2014 commencement ceremony
His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah and President of American University of Sharjah (AUS), expressed his satisfaction at the university entering a new developmental stage, and announced plans for expansion of the College of Engineering. He said this during his address at the Spring 2014 Commencement ceremony of the university held today, June 7, 2014, at University City Hall, Sharjah. The ceremony was also attended by His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah.
Over 500 students graduated in various majors offered by the university at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
"It gives me immense pleasure to congratulate all of you graduates on your success; this great moment is a testament of your hard work and proof that you have achieved your aspirations and goals. If today is your day of happiness, it is also the day we share this happiness and joy with your mothers, fathers and family members," said His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah.
"As we celebrate your graduation today, we are confident that the knowledge you have earned and the experience that you have accumulated during your days at one of the top universities of the world qualifies you for a bright future-a future that is filled with honesty and success," said Sheikh Dr. Sultan.
While speaking of Sharjah being declared the Islamic Cultural Capital this year, His Highness said, "I am proud that our long-cherished dream of establishing a top-ranked educational institution has come true. This institution, which has stood firm with other strong institutions of the emirate of Sharjah, bears witness to the emphasis we have placed on the development of education and culture and in taking firm steps towards a knowledge-based economy. This has resulted in Sharjah being declared as the Islamic Cultural Capital this year and the Cultural Capital of the Arab World in 1998."
His Highness also shared with the audience the future plans for the university. "As the university is now broadening its horizons and entering a new development stage, we hope to maintain our distinct standing as a university and recruit outstanding students and further strengthen the academic reputation of our highly qualified faculty members. The university is not only upgrading academically, but in terms of facilities as well. It plans to expand by adding new buildings and modern laboratories."
Of these expansions, Sheikh Dr. Sultan focused on plans for the College of Engineering. "Although the AUS College of Engineering is the biggest in the region in terms of number of students and undergraduate and graduate programs offered, we plan to expand it further. We are currently in the design stage of a new building to be added to the college that will have advanced laboratories with modern equipment to help develop student's skills and provide the best of facilities, thus taking the total of number of laboratories across the engineering college to more than 100."
He concluded his speech by asking graduates to use their higher education and skills for the benefit of their societies and nations.
Also present at the ceremony were Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani, Advisor at the Sharjah Ruler's Office; Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saud Al Qassimi, Chairman of the Central Finance Department; Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdullah Al Qassimi, Chairman of Seaports and Customs Authority; Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al Thani, Chairman of the Statistics and Social Development Department; Sheikh Ahmed Bin Abdullah Bin Thani, Chairman of the Sharjah Cultural and Sports Club; Rashid Ahmed Bin Alshaikh, Chairman of the Amiri Court; a number of members of the executive and consultative councils of the emirate of Sharjah; members of the AUS Board of Trustees; vice-chancellors; and senior university officials, as well as members of the media and the public.
Speaking next was AUS Acting Chancellor Dr. Thomas John Hochstettler. "We, at AUS, have tried our best to equip our graduates with the means to step boldly into this new world. Our purpose has always been to provide our students with an environment that encompasses both academic and extracurricular excellence, to offer an education that is much more than the sum of its parts, one that readies them successfully to tackle all the challenges that life may bring their way," said Dr. Hochstettler.
"Education, as we all know, is a life-long process. It does not end the moment you earn your mortarboard and tassel. If anything, this liminal moment here and now is when you really begin to benefit from and build on all that you have learned in the classroom. Education also plays an important role in how you define success. As you go through life, you will see for yourself that our definitions of learning, success and achievement-and the routes you take in arriving at those definitions-will vary and evolve with every stage of your lives," added the Acting Chancellor.
As his final words of advice to the graduates, Dr. Hochstettler said, "As you leave here today with your degree in hand, with years of strenuous academic training and extensive experience in a wide variety of extracurricular activities now behind you, you must venture forth with determination to continue on this path of learning, growth and education. Embrace whatever opportunity life offers you. Experience it with the knowledge that it can only help you evolve into a wiser, kinder, better human being who can be an integral part of the community and the wider world. Only you can define the meaning of success and the route you must take to achieve that success."
The breakdown of the graduates is as follows:
Total number of graduating students: 527
Number of undergraduate students receiving degrees: 448
Number of graduate students receiving degrees: 79
Number of male graduate and undergraduate students: 232
Number of female graduate and undergraduate students: 295
Total number of UAE nationals: 106
A breakdown of the graduating class by college/school is as follows:
College of Architecture, Art and Design: (92 undergraduate and 3 graduate)
College of Arts and Sciences: (67 undergraduate and 12 graduate)
College of Engineering: (165 undergraduate and 35 graduate)
School of Business Administration: (124 undergraduate and 29 graduate)
The student speaker at the ceremony was Mays Ibrahim Albaik, who spoke of her journey at AUS saying it was "an odyssey of trials, of tests and of triumphs," aided by their parents, the faculty and staff. "Without you, we wouldn't be sitting here, euphoric in our commencement regalia. So thank you. We have learned many things from you."
Albaik, who graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree, encouraged her peers "to be comfortable being uncomfortable." She explained, "To understand that being scared indicates that we are outside our comfort zone, and does not mean we're on the wrong track. As graduates from such a prestigious university, we should always remember that hard work could turn discomfort into discovery, that rigor could transform humble ideas into world-changing revelations. When we start this new journey in our life, we shouldn't be scared of the insecurities we are bound to experience, of the fact that we don't know something. Instead, we'll go out there and learn it. When we're at a beginning, as we all are now, everything is unchartered territory. We should understand that it is normal, the feeling of not knowing, and trust that we will eventually find your way. We won't be scared to make mistakes. We'll be brave. We have the courage to fight our way through those fears and emerge victorious."
She shared advice she received from her professors during her freshman year, who taught her that obstacles are opportunities. "There truly are happy mistakes. Just because the mountain we want to climb has no tracks, doesn't mean we give up and accept the next best thing. It is an opportunity, a challenge to create our own way, to learn new skills. And when we're making our tracks, when we are creating our own lives' paths, we should always remember that straying just a little bit off might not always be a mistake, but could be a new discovery, a better direction for our tracks and our lives."
"I want all of us to remember that what we have, what we gained from this university is not just a tool to survive in this world. We leave this hall today, climbing yet another one of life's steep inclines, and I want all of us to enjoy the journey, not just to endure it, not to suffer it or to just pass through it, but to actually live it. Let's stop every once in a while to take in the whole vista, to feel the bright sun on our faces, the light breeze on our skin. Our dreams might be coming true, but we're too busy looking up to our next peaks. We should look around. Look around and appreciate what we have, live our lives and remember to enjoy¬ our dreams coming true," she concluded.
His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan then honored Muhammad Tahsin Rahman, who was declared the recipient of the President's Cup for achieving the highest grade point average. He also honored Nawshad Akther, who received the Chancellor's Cup for exhibiting an outstanding combination of academic excellence, general character and service to university. Both students are from the College of Engineering.
His Highness was also presented with a special photograph of Al Noor Mosque, Sharjah, on behalf of the Class of 2014. The photograph was taken by AUS student Mostafa Ajjawi.
In 1997, AUS opened its doors to 285 students who had come to begin their studies with 30 faculty members. Today, the university is a complex of stunning buildings with over 6,000 students and a full-time faculty of more than 350 highly trained men and women.