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Celebrating New Beginnings

Excitement fills the air with the Class of 2020 and 2021 commencements

By Devon Murray
Photos by Ahmad El-Nemr

The Fall 2021 semester witnessed three classes of graduates attend their commencement ceremonies — a first in AUC history. 

After the University shifted to online instruction in March 2020 and continued with virtual and hybrid classes for a year and a half, students who graduated in Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 did not have commencement ceremonies. This fall, with the return to face-to-face instruction, these graduates celebrated their joy together at AUC’s 97th and 98th commencements. 

Nadeem Tameesh ’20, a computer science major with a minor in business administration, initially felt a lack of excitement when the ceremonies were announced, but she soon changed her mind. “I almost debated not coming, if it weren’t for my parents,” she said. “However, once we had the rehearsal, things were different. I started feeling nostalgic — walking through campus and seeing all my friends in one place — and I was looking forward to my commencement.” 

Michael Essam ’20, a double major in business administration  and accounting, was also eager to live the experience. “Even  though commencement was postponed for a year, I was still excited about it,” he said. “I wanted to share this once-in-a-lifetime moment with my friends and family, especially my parents. They waited a long time for this. I wanted to make them proud.” 

Reflecting on the past period, Tameesh said, “During the lockdown, a lot of things didn’t go according to plan. I even had to present my thesis online, which is something that would never have occurred to me.” 

Essam added, “There was a lot of uncertainty and difficulty at first, but we adapted and things went smoothly. I was upset that my last semester at the University was online, but I am thankful and appreciative.”  

Tameesh looks back on her time at AUC fondly. “A year ago,  I would have probably said that I felt robbed of my senior year. I don’t feel the same way anymore. I tried out a lot of things at AUC  — I joined clubs and the Student Ambassadors Program. I spent a  summer abroad and made new friends. I just wish I had more time  to spend on campus. Other than that, I am grateful for everything that happened.” 

Azza Alawady ’20, an electronics and communications engineering major with a minor in computer science, feels the same. “It was a bit overwhelming because not only were we  as students new to this, but so were the professors,” she said.  “I really wanted to continue my activities, such as teaching dance classes at the AUC Sports Center and jogging early in the morning around campus. But everyone was so nice and  cooperative — it went better than I expected.” 

  

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