Haigazian University’s 49th Commencement Exercises

On Sat., July 4, Haigazian University graduated141 students in the First Armenian Evangelical Church courtyard in Beirut.

The ceremony honored 133 students from the faculties of business administration and economics, the humanities, the sciences, and the social and behavioral sciences with BA and BS degrees, and 8 students with the a master’s degree.

Among the 1,200 invited guests were Minister Jean Oghasabian, representing the president of the republic; MP Hagop Pakradounian, representing the speaker of the parliament; and MP Bassem Shabb, representing the appointed prime minister.

Also in attendance were Rev. Salim Sahyouni, the president of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon; H.E. Roupen Kharazian, the Armenian ambassador to Lebanon; Rev. Joe Matossian, the minister of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America; Denise Herbol, the mission director of the United States Agency for International Development; as well as previous members of the parliament, ministers, university representatives, diplomats, clergy, members of the Board of Trustees, parents, relatives, and fellow students.

The ceremony began as faculty and graduates marched through the crowd to the celebratory processional march “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar, followed by the Lebanese national anthem, and the invocation by the Campus Minister, Rev. W. Gregory Lee-Parker.

In his trilingual speech, university president Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian talked about Beirut, which is known as the “book capital of the world,” and stressed its role as one of the capitals of education in the world. “While books and schools, universities and homes, web space and portals act as agents of education in general, good education is where values, relationships, ideas, needs, and technique will meet. Some of these independently lead to wider knowledge, but all of these together lead to deeper knowledge. All university education, therefore, is a challenge to balance these ingredients of good education,” Haidostian said.

The keynote speaker of the ceremony, Ziyad Baroud, the minister of interior and municipalities, talked about the knowledge and skills acquired at Haigazian. He explained that the first type of knowledge will enhance graduates’ career choices, whereas the second type of knowledge relates to the general skills acquired through liberal education. The latter, he said, will make graduates open to new ideas, practice critical thinking and respect the differences in a community.

The education provided by Haigazian University, he said, will give the graduates the sense of how they, as Lebanese, relate to the rest of the world and planet. “Your concern for human rights, the environment, health, justice, world heritage, democracy, and peace are no longer limited to Lebanon but to all corners of the world, and to the many issues that affect our lives and will likely shape our future and your children’s future.” Afterwards, Registrar Roubina Artinian and Deans Fadi Asrawi and Arda Ekmekji presented the graduates, who in turn received their degrees from Haidostian.

In their valedictorian addresses, Kamal Al Itani, speaking in English, considered the commencement day as the beginning of a new phase in life: the beginning of countless decisions to make, bridges to build instead of walls, and realizing that diversity is to be cherished and respected. Al Itani invited his fellow graduates to create a goal for themselves, saying, “Let us take inspiration where we find it and in return use our education to inspire other generations of respectful, grateful, and charitable individuals.” Valedictorian Araz Ladayan, speaking in Arabic, asked her fellow graduates to implement all of the values learned at Haigazian, and to be advocates of truth, freedom, and service.

The ceremony concluded with the Benediction given by the president of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, Rev. Meguerdich Karageozian.

The Class of 2009 threw their caps and walked with their heads held high while the recessional “Trumpet Tune in C” by Henry Purcell played, and celebratory balloons flew high into the skies.

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