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Six Degrees exhibition leaves new AUS graduates inspired by star alumni
The UAE design industry has gained 116 newly qualified professionals from
the regionally acclaimed College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS). The new graduates were celebrated this week in the college’s annual showcase exhibition Six Degrees and were met virtually by successful CAAD alumni who inspired them for life beyond graduation.
The virtual exhibition featured more than 75 works by students of architecture, design management, interior design, multimedia design, visual communication and urban planning, and was designed and curated by a multidisciplinary team of CAAD students led by Assistant Professor Riem Ibrahim and alumna Reema Abdulghaffar.
Dr. Varkki Pallathucheril, Dean of the CAAD, said the exhibition reflects both the significant talent and tenacity of this graduating class, who have had to adapt to online learning for the last three semesters of their studies at AUS.
“Despite facing these challenges, this class has continued to pursue excellence, delivering design work of the highest standard and being recognized and awarded—even on the global stage,” he said.
“And yet, I am not surprised at their success. The journey of a CAAD student is always one of extraordinary transformation, involving adapting to radically different ways of learning and thinking. Despite the uncertainty of these times, graduates of CAAD can have confidence that the knowledge, skills and sensibilities they have acquired and honed through application and critical feedback have prepared them well to adapt to and thrive in any situation,” he said.
Multimedia design graduate Lama Khadri said the challenges of the past year have shaped her identity.
“This past year has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding years of my life. I am so proud of my classmate’s efforts, strength and resilience during these times. I hope the future brings all of us happiness and success,” said Kadri.
Interior design major Dania Hasan said it is the CAAD community that has made the greatest impact on her.
“My journey at CAAD was so much more than I expected. Aside from acquiring valuable design knowledge, I also gained a family, full of supportive friends and faculty. It is bittersweet to graduate because I am not ready to leave a community that is so wholesome and pure, but this is not goodbye; see you soon CAAD!” said Hasan.
Dr. Pallathucheril reiterated the significance of CAAD’s close-knit community, highlighting the important role alumni continue to play well past their graduation.
“In all these fields of design and more, CAAD alumni continue to enjoy incredible success—yet nothing makes me prouder than to see how the CAAD community continues to support each other in the professional realm and to return to AUS to inspire new generations of designers,” he said.
Doing just this, four of the college’s most successful alumni participated in “CAADxWorld”—a panel discussion following the opening of the exhibition—to share their experiences and advice with the new graduates. Founder of Fikra Design Studio Salem AlQassimi, film and content director Moustafa Zakaria, Programs Manager from Warehouse 421 Mays AlBeik and interior design manager Hala Al Sabouni were joined by moderator Associate Professor Juan Roldán, discussing their personal stories of starting their own businesses, pursuing entrepreneurship opportunities and challenging conventional job prospects.
The public program continued on June 18 and 19 with two sessions titled “CAADxCollaboration” and “CADDxPreservation”, presented by graduates and moderated by faculty Kiran Sajwani and Dalia Hamati.
As per CAAD tradition, the opening ceremony included the presentation of a series of awards to students who demonstrated academic excellence, dedication and service throughout their studies.
The Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence was presented to graduating students whose accomplishments over the course of their years at CAAD and AUS was truly exceptional: Julia Najah Fhaili (Architecture), Dania Hasan (Interior Design), Zaina FirasJunidy (Multimedia Design), Leen Mohammad Jameel Albaz (Visual Communication), Trisha Saxena (Design Management), and Marwan Salah Saksouk (Urban Planning).
Recipients of the coveted MAD award for motivation, attitude and dedication were Arian Ahmad Saghafifar (Architecture), Lama Adel Adnan Al Shadid (Interior Design), Lama Kadri (Multimedia Design), Saba Khalid Yousef (Visual Communication), Rouda Matar AlKetbi (Design Management), and Osama Jamil (Urban Planning).
The Dean’s Service Award for exemplary organizational leadership, service to the University, enlargement of the College purpose, citizenship, and contributions to the community went to Jana Shehata.
Certificates of appreciation were given to those who led CAAD’s various student organizations: Sakina Qaid Johar and Nadin Tarek Abdelfatah (American Institute of Architecture Students); Mariam Mohamed Shamma and Trisha Saxena (American Institute of Graphic Arts), Dania Hasan and Razan Hussein (Interior Design Student Association); and Daniella Lynette Maria Fernandes and Rouda Matar AlKetbi (Design Management Association).
Finally, the annual award for excellence in teaching as nominated by CAAD students was also presented to long-term AUS faculty member Phil Sheil from the Department of Art and Design.
To view the Six Degrees exhibition visit www.caadsixdegrees.com.