Abu Dhabi: New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) held its sixth graduation ceremony on Monday, celebrating the achievements, creative spirit, and academic passion of the Class of 2019. Degrees were conferred to some 275 students from over 75 countries at the ceremony that took place on the University’s campus on Saadiyat Island.

Chair of the NYU Board of Trustees William R. Berkley, NYU president Andrew Hamilton, and NYU Abu Dhabi vice-chancellor Al Bloom officiated the ceremony. The event was attended by over 1,400 guests and was live streamed to audiences around the globe.

Former White House official, Paralympic ski medallist, Fortune 500 business consultant, Rhodes Scholar, and best-selling author Bonnie St. John offered the keynote address to the graduating class. In her remarks, she commented on the unique educational experience offered by NYUAD, saying, “Education is so much about conversation, and what you learn from each other. And to have 10 students in a room and have 10 countries represented is a very different conversation than what most students around the world are having. This is a truly extraordinary place that has been created.”

She also focused on the importance of resilience and global perspective, asserting, “You are the change. You are what’s different in the world, what’s needed in the world today … You will fall down and you will get up again. Sometimes you will get up fast, but sometimes it will take a season to get up … You won’t always look like you’re changing the world but trust me, you are.”

During their four years, the Class of 2019, the largest NYUAD class to graduate to date, has excelled in academic and extra-curricular pursuits, earning top honours, including Rhodes Scholarships, UAE Fulbright Award, Schwarzman Scholarships, and the University’s first Luce Scholarship, among others.

Marking his last commencement ceremony as vice-chancellor of NYUAD, Al Bloom said, “Graduates, we celebrate each of you who will walk across this stage tonight prepared for stunning success in your careers, equipped for wise and effective response to the world’s most pressing challenges, and ready to open your hearts and minds across a world of increasingly fractious divides, to build a more responsible, inclusive, cooperative, and peaceful globe.”

Emirati graduate and 2019 UAE Rhodes Scholar Majida Al Maktoum also speaking during the ceremony said: “We all arrived here from different walks of life. We brought our cultures, our stories, our perspectives, and our beliefs into this environment. NYUAD encouraged us to be curious, critical thinkers, and courageous. And that I think is what we’re going to walk away with.”