On Friday, June 24, 2016, some 150 students proudly earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees at Haigazian University’s 56th commencement exercises, amidst an atmosphere of joyfulness and ovation, sometimes mixed with moments of high emotion, thus marking the end of another successful academic year.
MP Serge Toursarkissian represented the Speaker of the Parliament, H.E. Mr. Nabih Berry, whereas the President of the Council of Ministers, H.E. Mr. Tammam Salam was represented by the Minister of Information, Mr. Ramzi Jreige. Among the attendees were MPs Hagop Pakradouni and Jean Oghasabian, the Armenian Consul Ashot Vardanian, in addition to the heads of the Armenian political parties and representatives from several Lebanese political parties, representatives of the Commander of the Army and the Head of the Internal Security Forces. The audience also included community leaders, representatives of educational institutions, and members of the Board of Trustees, parents, relatives and friends.
A celebratory processional march by faculty and students, led by Chief Marshall Dr. Nadim Hassoun, followed by the Lebanese National Anthem and the prayer of invocation offered by Campus Minister, Rev. Wilbert Van Saane, opened the auspicious ceremony.
In his trilingual speech (Arabic, Armenian and English), University President, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian addressed the class of 2016, discerning on the virtue of “generosity”. “A renewed discussion is revolving today around the balance of giving and receiving… as the days progress, you will be required to give even more than you had done before,” Haidostian stated. Tackling the issue from a religious approach, “it is in giving that we receive”, Haidostian stated that even the corporate world has to exhibit virtue and be socially responsible. “While trying to receive and gain, the market has to serve and distribute what is socially good, otherwise it loses its legitimacy,” he said. Haidostian focused on the very basic requirement of generosity, the one of giving things “freely”, as according to him this act “freely open the horizons for life, for a better life. Generosity needs no justification and no explanation. It is a virtue you want to own, because in giving freely, in sharing freely, is transmitting freely all the good you have received, you will secure the wide horizons of growth and success,” Haidostian concluded.
In his keynote address, Minister of Public Health, Wael Abou Faour focused on the key concepts the Lebanese nation often lacks; sense of citizenship, national identity, cultural renaissance, intellectual pioneering and reform.
He considered that a nation will not experience its rebirth or renaissance without a cultural revolution, which in its turn is directly correlated to the prerequisite of freedom of thought and speech that could only be ensured through an adequate political system.
On finding solutions to those national problems, Abou Faour concluded his speech by putting this responsibility onto the graduates, inviting them to be the reform agents against corruption, unity against division, knowledge against ignorance, good governance against lack of government, moderation and tolerance against all sorts of extremism and last but not least, hope and faith against despair.
With a sense of accomplishment, valedictorian Christine Simidian looked at this commencement day as “the official recognition day of their dedication to higher education.” She considered herself and her fellow graduates a diverse group of learners, with one thing in common, “all successful and aspiring to further success”, whereas for her part, valedictorian Sarah Farhat, expressed her gratitude to the Haigazian University family, which she considered as a small example of Lebanon. She further acknowledged the major virtues they have acquired as graduates; knowledge, faith, confidence, and teamwork which she promised will be their future weapons in serving the country.
Finally, after singing the Alma Mater, and upon the benediction offered by the President of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, Rev. Mgrdich Karageozian, the graduates threw their caps high into the air, erupting in loud cheers.
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