VCUQatar holds 11th graduation ceremony
TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK
DOHA FORTY-five students of Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar) graduated at a colourful commencement ceremony held at the Education City Student Centre, on Monday.
According to a press release, 43 students were conferred with Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in fashion, graphic and interior design while two students received the Master of Fine Arts degrees in design studies.
This year’s graduation ceremony, which is the 11th, brings the number of VCUQatar alumni to 365 and also celebrates the first class of designers of the first graduate programme in design in the region, the release said.
Addressing the graduates at the event, Dean of VCUQatar Allyson Vanstone said, “Graduation is a time for celebration and reflection. Your years at VCUQatar have been transformational for each of you. You have enriched our university and our wider community through your projects, research, service, activities and unique voice.” She said that the students had already contributed towards the vision of a Qatari society that innovates through art and design.
“You are fortunate to graduate within an environment that acknowledges your talents and challenges you to participate in building the nation and to contribute to the Qatar National Vision 2030,” she said.
In his speech, Virginia Commonwealth University President Dr. Michael Rao said, “My greatest privilege in this role is honouring our students who dream big and accomplish much, who possess an unrelenting desire to create, and who are distinguished in their pursuit of excellence. The pinnacle of your academic pursuits, whether you study in Richmond or in Doha, is always commencement. I am honoured and delighted to be with you on your day.” Anne Marie Paltsou, fashion and public relations consultant from Milan, who delivered the commencement address, said, “Work is all about passions and relationships.
People never forget if you have been good or bad in business with them.” Paltsou has managed all things commercial in the fashion world, from buying merchandise to creating showrooms, organising fashion shows and public relations events. She drew on her own experiences in her address.
During the ceremony, renowned Master Calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya was invited to the podium by the President Rao to confer upon him the Honourary Doctor of Humane Letters, VCU’s highest form of recognition.
President Rao was joined by VCU Rector Thomas Snead in the presentation, while Dr Beverly Warren, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at VCU and VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone performed the hooding ceremony.
Since settling in the Washington, DC, area in 1972, Zakariya has travelled frequently to Turkey and the Gulf and has exhibited and lectured extensively in the United States and abroad.
Known for his design of the ‘Eid Greetings’ US postage stamp, he concentrates primarily on classical Arabic and Ottoman Turkish calligraphy.
In 2009, Zakariya was commissioned by US President Barack Obama to create a gift of calligraphy for King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia.
Zakariya’s experience includes a stint as artist-inresidence at the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art in Honolulu; solo exhibitions at the Institute for Works on Paper, San Francisco, the Bellevue (Washington) Arts Centre, the Asia Society New York; and group exhibitions in Dubai and Kuwait.
Zakariya is considered the preeminent ambassador of the art of Islamic calligraphy in America. He was a member of the VCUQatar Joint Advisory Board from August 2003 to May 2011.
“‘By being true to your passion, you will always succeed.
This is what I have learned based on my experiences,” said Fashion Design graduate and Valedictorian Yang Soon Ju in her address to the graduates.
“I feel so empowered by my knowledge and transformed by my experience after my journey together with the class of 2012, learning and sharing at VCUQatar. And now, I am about to realise my dream of being a designer and artist.” She said that it was incredible for her to be able to interact with the local community of Doha and the international art and design community through design research, design competitions, conferences, and joint projects.
“VCUQatar has given me fabulous opportunities to realise my true passion, something that I love enough to dedicate my life to. My four years of university life have gone by in the blink of an eye, thanks to this passion,” she added.
Following the Valedictorian’s speech, Dr Douglas Boudinot, dean of the Graduate School, presented the candidates of the Master of Fine Arts degree in Design Studies their diplomas; Dean Vanstone presented the candidates for the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree their diplomas and President Rao conferred upon them their MFA and BFA degrees. Dr Timothy Hulsey, dean of the Honours College, recognised the honors graduates.