It was made memorable by inspiring and touching speeches that were given by faculty, graduates, and the keynote speaker at the event that brought together families, friends, faculty and staff to celebrate the accomplishments of VCUQatar’s graduates, with more than 700 people attending.
Dr. Gail Hackett, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University began the ceremony by urging the graduates to: “Keep going. Keep creating. Keep transforming. And look in unexpected places. Imagine what can be…then work hard to ‘make it real’,” she said, referring to the university’s motto.
The university conferred 55 Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees in fashion, graphic, interior design, painting and printmaking, and art history, and seven Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in design. The 15th Commencement brings the number of VCUQatar alumni to 566.
Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, Doha Film Institute and Reach Out to Asia, honored the students with her presence at the ceremony.
The keynote speaker was Arnold Wasserman, the chairman of the Idea Factory, an innovation consultancy based in Singapore and San Francisco, who asked the graduates: “Is the future simply whatever happens to us next? Or is it something we deliberately create?”
“What that means is that everything is happening faster and at an accelerating rate. For example, human knowledge is doubling every 12 months. And that curve is accelerating. An IBM researcher foresees that within a few years, knowledge will be doubling every 12 hours as we build out the Internet of things globally.” This, Wasserman explained, means innovation and design have to grow accordingly.
The Class of 2016 Valedictorian and Salutatorian gave a well-received and humorous speech in which they thanked their “mentors and tormentors” and cracked jokes about friends, family, colleagues, working in fast food chains (and not to be confused) Star Wars and faculty.
“Today we graduate as designers and join the artists that made the world more beautiful, lovelier and more meaningful to live in. Let us create and innovate new designs and not just cut and paste, unless we cut out the limitations and paste our designs that improve current issues,” Mark Bermejo, the Class of 2016 Valedictorian stated. Bermejo has a long VCUQatar family history. His brother studied graphic design and his sister studied fashion design at VCUQatar.
The event also generated quite a buzz on social media as students, faculty, friends and family excitedly messaged their followers. Graduate Bashayer Al-Naimi had the task of being the host of Qatar Foundation’s Snapchat account at the event, something she did with considerable skill.
The speech by the keynote speaker, Arnold Wasserman, can be downloaded here.