Abu Dhabi: Believe in a positive future despite the divisive world we live in and be ambassadors of tolerance around the world, Shaikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance, told students of New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) during their graduation ceremony on Wednesday.
“As I look at this region and the world today, I ask you to be courageous. To have the courage to coexist, while others seek division. To have the courage to believe in a positive future, even while others are fatalistic. I ask you to be ambassadors for tolerance, wherever you are,” said Shaikha Lubna.
“I urge you to leave the world a better place than you find it. The biggest threat to your generation is not terrorism, war or even climate change. It is lack of ambition. As Michelangelo said, the greatest danger is not to aim too high and miss it but to aim too low and reach it,” she added.
Shaikha Lubna made the fervent plea at the university’s fourth graduation ceremony where she was presented with the Global Leadership Award for her outstanding commitment to the university and to society.
The event, which was attended by around 1,300 guests, celebrated the diversity of the university, which this year saw a total of 165 students from 64 countries receive their degrees on the Saadiyat Island campus.
Among the graduates were Shaikh Zayed Bin Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Shaikh Kahlifa Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan who received their Bachelors in Political Science.
Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice-Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, was present to see his son graduate.
The ceremony was also attended by His Highness Shaikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and Shaikh Sultan Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Adviser to the President.
Emirati student Dubai Abulhoul, who majored in Political Science, who was one of the speakers at the ceremony, told her fellow graduates, “While today marks the closing of a chapter, it does not mark the end of our story. In fact, we will simply be moving from one diverse place to the next, hopping from one narrative to another, forever bound by our collective experience of tolerance and coexistence.”
During their four years on campus, the class of 2017 was credited with several achievements including creating student clubs, athletic groups, and building ties with the Abu Dhabi community. Graduates of the university interned at some of the world’s most respected organisations, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Ministry of Finance in the UAE, the European Parliament, United Nations, World Bank, Solar Energy Foundation, American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology, CNN, and The New York Times.
Azhar Yerzhaniva, a 22-year-old from Kazakhstan who graduated with a degree in political science, said “This university gave me my best friends, it gave me an amazing experience to travel the world and to learn a lot of amazing things. I am just so grateful.”
Social research and public policy graduate, Mohammad Usman, 23, from Pakistan said, “The experience at NYU was life changing. I never imagined that I would (a) end up in Abu Dhabi and (b) have the experiences that I did over the last few years.”