NU-Q inaugural graduation: a historic moment for media in Qatar

May 10, 2012

News editor & commentator Rami Khouri charges NU-Q’s first class of journalism and communication students to shape their world through storytelling

 Doha, Qatar – May 10, 2012 – Northwestern University in Qatar celebrated its inaugural graduation yesterday in a commencement ceremony at the Qatar National Convention Centre, welcoming a new generation of aspiring media professionals to the field.


Graduation speaker Rami Khouri, the prolific Middle East author, columnist and commentator, charged the 36 graduating journalism and communication students to use the power of knowledge and storytelling for good in these transformative times.

“When you decided to pursue your studies here, you became part of something much bigger that marks an important milestone today,” said Khouri, who is director of the respected Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University in Beirut and a columnist for the Beirut-based Daily Star.

Khouri continued: “You wear a mantle that none before you have ever experienced: the combined inheritance of a thousand years of Arab higher education; several centuries of American leadership in the practice and study of free media and responsible communications; and a still growing but solid Qatari national commitment to harnessing the full force of these two remarkable traditions for the benefit of not only Qataris, Arabs or Americans, but for all humankind.”

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, has also commented on the importance of the occasion for Qatar: “This first graduation from Northwestern University in Qatar represents a moment of great opportunity for our pioneering students and also for our country.”

“Media and communications are more than industries—they are an integral part of the daily lives of millions of people with a significant role to play in shaping and changing societies.  As members of the Class of 2012 embark on their chosen careers, my dream is to see them play an active role in the shaping of our society and our region,” added Her Highness.

Fifteen students received their Bachelor of Science degrees in journalism and 21 in communication during the inaugural commencement ceremony, which also featured a speech from Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani, director of His Highness the Amir’s Office and co-chair of NU-Q’s Joint Advisory Board, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, NU-Q Dean and CEO Everette E. Dennis, and student leader Zainab Sultan.

“Tell me an interesting, funny, sad or captivating story, and I will listen to you. Give me accurate facts and truths, and reasoned opinions, and I will open my mind to you,” said Khouri in his keynote address.

“Society gives you a mandate and a public trust: to chronicle and document your world,” added the celebrated media professional, who boasts 45 years of experience in the field. “Always keep in mind that you are, at heart, storytellers.”

The NU-Q students are graduating a time of great transformation in the region, Khouri went on to explain, which presents the young people with both opportunity and responsibility. “The changing Arab world today is the greatest story that any communicator or journalist could ever ask for. It is huge, tempestuous, and still unfolding. It is full of drama, uncertainty, good and evil, amazing characters, hope, tension, winners and losers, and, ultimately, I expect, it will be about the triumph of the human spirit,” said Khouri, adding, “It is the world’s biggest story in the last generation, and it has fallen squarely into your laps.”

In a final charge, Khouri said: “You must come to terms with the fact that you are not only a detached observer or third person objective chronicler of this story; you are the story.”

Top figures from Northwestern University and Qatar’s media and education community joined the NU-Q faculty, staff and students in celebrating the graduation on May 9.  The entire NU-Q Joint Advisory Board was also present.

NU-Q Dean and CEO Everette E. Dennis delivered the welcome address for the occasion, and remarked, “As we gather here in solemn convocation to recognize this inaugural class of 2012, we do so with great gratitude to His Highness, the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation; and to Qatar Foundation and the supportive leadership of Northwestern University.”

Members of the Northwestern University in Qatar Class of 2012 are as follows:

Graduates receiving their Bachelor of Science degree in journalism, awarded by the Medill School of Journalism: Laala Al-Jaber (Honors), Mai Al-Mannai, Jawaher Al-Naimi, Latifa Al-Romaihi, Sara Al-Thani, Ola Deyab, Shannon Farhoud, Camila Ferreira, Benazir Karim (Honors), Rana Khaled, Thouria Mahmoud, Shereena Qazi, Ashlene Ramadan, Zainab Sultan (Honors), and Nazneen Zahan.

Graduates receiving their Bachelor of Science degree in communication, awarded by the Medill School of Communication: Sarah Abou-Zant, Lama Al-Abdulla, Asmaa Al-Buainain, Maryam Al-Darwish, Fatema Al-Hadad (Honors), Md. Rezwan Al-Islam (Honors), Lolwa Al-Jefairi (Honors), Jassim Al-Romaihi (Honors), Sara Al-Saadi (Honors), Hattan Al-Thani, Kaltham Al-Thani, Thamer Al-Thani, Maaria Assami, Amit Chowdhury, Florent D’Souza, Mohamed Farid, Melanie Fridgant, Sara Kawas (Honors), Omer Mohammad, Zaina Salameh, and Nayaab Shaikh.

In a final celebration of their graduation, NU-Q seniors will travel to Evanston, Illinois in mid-June to participate in the graduation ceremonies at Northwestern University’s home campus, where they will receive their official diploma alongside other Northwestern graduates.