Lassen: “We are keen to continue collaborating and investing more in Lebanon's stability, including economic stability, creating growth and jobs, as well as improving security and prosperity”
On Friday, June 30th, 2017, Haigazian University conferred 136 undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University’s 57th commencement exercises, amidst an atmosphere of joyfulness, pride and ovation, sometimes mixed with moments of high emotion.
Minister of Tourism Avedis Guidanian represented the President of the Republic Gen. Michel Aoun, Member of Parliament Hagop Pakradounian represented the Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berry, whereas the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri was represented by the Minister of State for Women’s Affairs, Jean Oghasabian. Among the attendees were MPs Bassem Shabb and Shant Chinchinian, the Armenian Ambassador to Lebanon Samvel Mkrdchyan, Bishop Shahe Panosian, in addition to the representative of the Commander of the Army and heads of the Armenian political parties. The capacity audience also included community leaders, representatives of educational institutions, and members of the Board of Trustees, parents, relatives and friends.
The auspicious ceremony started with the celebratory processional march by faculty and graduates on the notes of the traditional Pomp and Circumstance, followed by the Lebanese National Anthem and the prayer of invocation offered by Campus Minister, Rev. Wilbert Van Saane.
Expressing his pride in the graduating class, University President Paul Haidostian acknowledged the unwavering efforts and dedication of the parents, asking the audience to give them a hearty applause.
Haidostian invited the audience to ponder upon the virtue and purpose of “education” saying, “in this era of ongoing change and uncertainty, the purpose of education relies on the renewal and development of the human being, not only through the academic programs, but through educating the souls and shaping the vision of the new generations.”
He invited the graduates to shift their focus to the future and move forward. “The future is often defined in terms of its uncertainties and risks…The future is wider and may be brighter because of you… The future is not dangerous; it is not your enemy. The future is a neutral space awaiting your constructive character and dedicated input,” he noted.
In her inspiring keynote speech, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Ambassador Christina Lassen focused on the motto of the University, “truth, freedom and service”, considering them as common values that the European Union also cherishes.
On truth, Lassen said that it’s a fact that this new generation is graduating at a time when the entire region and world is facing crises. However, she was sure that they were equipped to face those challenges, same as Europe did after the 2nd World War. “I truly believe that this region will go through the same peaceful and prosperous transformation. And we count on you to work for this. To show leadership and make a difference in this region,” Lassen added.
On freedom, she considered Lebanon as an example of freedom vis a vis its neighboring countries, urging students to safeguard and protect freedom of thinking, expression, religion and press, which are receding in the region. Giving the example of Europe during the Cold War, Lassen said, “the Cold War’s division of Europe taught us that there can be no sustainable development and security when human rights and freedoms are not fully respected.”
On service, Lassen pointed out that now it’s the time to “find a new purpose in life”, asking the graduates to reflect on how they can serve their respective communities, country, and eventually the whole world. She moved on to confidently declare that the European Union considers Lebanon as a strategic partner. “We are keen to continue collaborating and investing more in Lebanon's stability, including economic stability, creating growth and jobs, as well as improving security and prosperity, “ Lassen noted.
The Ambassador concluded her remarks by adding two virtues to the University’s motto: courage and devotion. “With courage and devotion you can make changes, make inventions, make creations, and achieve success! Bravery and courage just make a difference, they make things happen,” Lassen said.
The graduates then were called to collect their diplomas from the University President, helped by the deans Fadi Asrawi and Arda Ekmekji.
With a sense of accomplishment and gratitude, valedictory Angie Kirejian and Rabih Riman thanked all the parents and University faculty, giving them the credit for shaping and equipping them with all the necessary education and skills to embark on their new phase of life.
Speaking to their peers, Kirejian invited them all to be proactive in building the future and achieving breakthroughs, whereas Riman asked them to influence and serve their societies. “We were shaped in a way that allows us to face all the obstacles that the future holds for us, and more importantly we were prepared to give back to society and be the true service providers,” Riman concluded.
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, with loud cheers graduates threw their caps high into the air, thus joyfully marking the end of a four-year journey and confidently anticipating the commencement of a new beginning.
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