On June 11, 2022, the American University of Armenia (AUA) held its thirtieth commencement ceremony to see off the Class of 2022. The ceremony was hosted in the Large Auditorium of the University, with over 500 students receiving their degrees. Among the guests attending the auspicious occasion were representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Armenia and USAID; the RA Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture, and Sport Artur Martirosyan; Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, former president and co-founder of AUA; and members of the AUA Board of Trustees Dr. Yuri Sargsyan and Yervant Zorian. Family and friends of the graduating class, as well as AUA staff, alumni, and others joined the joyous celebration.
AUA President Dr. Karin Markides opened the ceremony with her congratulatory remarks to the graduating class: “Today, we celebrate your remarkable accomplishments as the American University of Armenia’s thirtieth graduating class,” she announced. “Class of 2022, your graduation marks not only a great milestone in your own life, but also in the history of the University. Today is your day. Be proud of what you have achieved.”
In her speech, Dr. Markides highlighted significant events in the life of the University in the previous academic year. Despite the complex challenges posed by the global pandemic, including transitioning back to in-person instruction after a year and a half of remote learning, AUA was not only able to open its doors to a safe and healthy environment, but also achieved new milestones. AUA successfully launched a groundbreaking new undergraduate nursing program in the Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian College of Health Sciences; a graduate Executive Certificate program in Management offered by the Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics; and a new minor in Gender Studies in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Additionally, in the 2021-22 academic year, AUA made several academic appointments, selecting Dr. Knar Khachatryan as Vice Provost for Integration, Dr. Hagop Yacoubian as Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, new chairs to support enhanced opportunities for research and collaboration in the Open Centers of Excellence, and over 25 new full-time faculty.
Subsequently, President Markides delivered the greetings from the University of California and Provost Ellison read the congratulatory letter from U.S. Congressman Adam B. Schiff. “While many things in this world are uncertain right now, this much is clear: your futures are incredibly bright. The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives likes to say ‘know your power’ — and as young people today, your power is immense. The future is yours, and I have every optimism that each and every one of you will go out and make your mark on it,” the letter underscored.
This year’s commencement keynote speakers, Nobel Prize 2021 laureate Dr. Ardem Patapoutian and Starmus Founding Director Dr. Garik Israelian, delivered heartfelt congratulations and insightful addresses. “Ask yourself what your country or community needs, and then ask how you can contribute to the solution of that problem. The intersection of your big thinking and thinking practically is where your victory for humanity lies. If you’re looking to maximize your positive impact, this mindset is a great place to start,” advised Dr. Patapoutian. In his turn, Dr. Israelian encouraged the graduates to embrace their uniqueness and remain ambitious. “You are now armed with one of the most important tools needed to forge your path ahead. It’s not the diploma itself that counts; it’s about what you have learned along the way and what you do with the education you’ve received along your journey to graduation today. Your future is in your hands and no one else’s. So, don’t give up. Stay positive, stay strong, be different, be yourselves!”
The ceremony featured graduand addresses in Armenian and English by undergraduate valedictorians Lilit Karapetyan (BSCS) and Mary Margaryan (BAB) and graduate valedictorians Sona Babasyan (MSM) and Ohannes Taghdweirnian (MSE). “Each one of us sitting here would agree that AUA not only provides us with a high quality education, but also reshapes us to become a better version of ourselves and have better judgment in the decisions we take,” said Taghdweirnian. In her speech, Margaryan remarked, “Undoubtedly, the past four years were unusual, interesting, demanding, and filled with twists and turns beyond imagination. Yet, we overcame all the obstacles with perseverance and determination and are now marching to conquer new mountains with confidence and mindfulness.”
Next, President Markides presented a series of awards. The 2022 AUA Presidential Commendation award that recognizes and honors an individual who has made extraordinary contributions in advancing education, research, and outreach, with a particular impact on Armenia was presented to RA National Academy of Sciences Academician Dr. Yuri Sargsyan. As a longstanding member of the AUA Fund, he has served as rector of the National Polytechnic University of Armenia 1988-2006 and has played a significant role in the founding of AUA. His contributions have been invaluable to the advancement of AUA and Artsakh State University. The award was inscribed on special paper made from flowers laid at the Tsitsernakaberd Armenian Genocide Memorial.
The Vartkess M. Balian Merit award that recognizes the best overall performance of a student went to Naira Minasyan (MSE ‘23). The 2022 winners of Faculty Teaching Excellence awards were Dr. Hourig Attarian, associate professor in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences (CHSS), and Dr. Gayane Barseghyan, associate professor in the Manoogian Simone College of Business & Economics (CBE). Dr. Garabet Kazanjian, assistant professor in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences (CHSS), received the Faculty Research Initiative award.
The commencement ceremony culminated with the conferrals of certificates and degrees to the undergraduate and graduate classes of 2022 by the respective program chairs and deans. This year’s graduation was extra special for the very first graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Data Science program, as well as for those of the Executive Certificate in Management and Certificate in Hotel and Hospitality Management programs.
In closing the momentous celebration, President Markides added a few inspiring thoughts of encouragement: “Class of 2022, throughout your career, please follow your talents, your interests, and your values to discover your unique paths towards living a life of purpose. Remember the ones who helped you get to where you are and help the ones coming after you. Embrace the opportunities that come your way and use the platform you’ve earned to change the world for the better.”
The graduates’ throwing of caps in the air marked the conclusion of the event and the beginning of a new journey to a bright and promising future.