Kraidy to Class of 2024: Education is a Roadmap to Life

August 24, 2020

Northwestern Qatar’s largest class to-date was officially welcomed to the school by its dean, the president of the student union, and the dean of Northwestern’s School of Communication. 

In welcoming the new class, Dean Marwan M. Kraidy told them that Northwestern Qatar is “a magical space of encounter, a special community sitting in Doha, at the confluence of continents,” where their creativity can flourish, and their talent will be met with support and opportunity.

With the students beginning their university career during a global pandemic, Kraidy assured the students that “every crisis carries within it the seeds of renewal, that the human spirit always overcomes adversity,” encouraging them to seize this opportunity at Northwestern Qatar for personal and professional growth, keeping their curiosity alive as they navigate the next four years as undergraduates. 

Throughout his address, Kraidy recalled turning points in his life where he, like the incoming class, had to embrace uncertainty. For Kraidy, it was the Lebanese civil war in 1989. “As the war raged on, I attended classes when I could, wrote papers, spent time with family and friends, and hid in shelters when it rained fire. When things got better, I was ready to reap the harvest I had sown,” he said, reminding the class to use their time wisely, to find their strengths and hone new skills.


A similar message was delivered by Hamad Alfayhani, president of Northwestern Qatar’s Student Union, who reflected on his personal growth and encouraged the students to embrace the changes around them, “to adapt and find new ways to be able to get ourselves back on track.”

Also drawing from his life experiences, speaker E. Patrick Johnson, dean of Northwestern’s School of Communication, shared life skills and values that shaped his upbringing and career.

Johnson, who is a renowned scholar of ethnography and communication, recalled an incident from his childhood when he was racially discriminated against by his teacher who called him a “colored boy.” Turning to his mother for answers, Johnson said he came to understand his teacher’s remarks and that he needed to learn to rise above them and not be defined by them.

In learning how to do this, Johnson said, he learned how to listen – whether it was to his mother’s advice, or to people he interviewed when researching, for Johnson, listening was key.

“Listening,” he said, “includes asking questions, which provokes authentic exchanges and deepens relationships.” He added that listening “doesn’t mean being invisible or taking claims at face value. Instead, it is occupying the space required to develop informed opinions and expertise.”

Speaking to a class of future journalists and media professionals, Johnson urged them to broaden their networks and work collectively to “contribute to effective lasting social and political change.” He added, “Journalists are not the enemy of the people. On the contrary, they are the emancipatory voice of the people. For the media artists, scholars, theorists, and filmmakers here. This is the space where a narrative develops. Read between the lines, color outside them.”