By Ebele Orakpo
A total number of 210 students took part in the 7th Commencement ceremony of the American University of Nigeria (AUN) Yola, Adamawa State on Saturday, May 9, 2015. A breakdown of the number shows that 184 of the graduands received Bachelor’s, 19 master’s and seven received post-graduate diploma in management.
Twenty-four of the 184 graduated with first class. In the post-graduate category, 11 received MBA, four got MTech (IT), four MTech (Telecommunications) while seven received Post-Graduate Diploma in Management.
Miss Hephzber Ifunanya Obiora of the School of Arts & Sciences emerged the overall best graduating student and the valedictorian for the 2015 class.
In her address, the President of AUN, Prof. Margee Ensign praised members of the local community especially the Adamawa Peace Initiative, describing them as heroes who helped keep the community “fed, clothed and safe this year.
To families and friends, and most importantly the Class of 2015 who today conclude their education and their lives with us. We celebrate your many successes: the fruit of all the hard work by everyone in AUN and your families who make this possible.”
She noted that for a region which is beginning to regain hope for peace and security, the occasion was a special triumph for the Nigerian people who have proved to the world that democracy is alive and well and thriving here. She said the Commencement ceremony marked “not only the successful completion of your work with us, but the start of something new; the start of your life as a university graduate, your life as an educated citizen of a democratic country.
“In your courses, you have mastered Information Technology, Economics, and Entrepreneurship; you have majored in Business, Petroleum Chemistry, Software Engineering, and International & Comparative Politics. Beyond your courses, you have been actively engaged in meeting local challenges,” she said.
She described the community service program such as fixing up schools, teaching young people and their parents to read and write, cleaning up the environment, and feeding the poor and displaced in Yola (a destination for refugees), as development at work.
“…development isn’t just about buying and selling; rising GNP or increasing foreign investment. Development is about opening up opportunity, fostering dreams, creating justice and prosperity for everyone; forging a truly sustainable future, and above all, giving everyone a voice and hope to the future.
“You already have changed the world one person at a time; teaching those children to read, feeding and clothing the hungry and desperate refugees. But now, in a free society, you know you can make a difference.
“The challenges facing your country, Africa and the world, are huge. The responsibilities that lay on your shoulders are weighty indeed but the opportunities to change the world for the better are there.” This year, we offered sanctuary and education to some of the women who escaped the Boko Haram kidnappers. Recently when asked what education means to her, one of these brave women said: ‘Education gives me the wings to fly, the power to fight, and the voice to speak.’
“May the AUN Class of 2015 spread its wings, feel its power, and raise its voice. Congratulations.” While congratulating the graduands and AUN, the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said it is significant that the graduands, whom he described as graduates of change, are joining the Nigerian community to start their various professions at such a significant period in the nation’s history.
He congratulated the female gender in AUN because the Class Speaker (Marvelous Imabeh), Valedictorian (Hephzber Ifunanya Obiora) and the representative of the alumni association are all female. “There must be something special about the chemistry of this university. I look at you and I don’t see a large crowd of graduands and I listen very carefully to the various specializations of the best graduands.
You do not find a situation where there are 20, 30, 40, 50 with identical qualification, which shows that AUN is imparting specialized knowledge and that the class size is unique. Each one of you during your stay here must have had the privilege of personal and personalized attention,” he said.
Commencement Speaker andColombia’s former Vice-Minister of Education, Ms. Vicky Colbert, told the graduands to be change agents in society. “As you start your professional journey, keep always in mind the model of a shocker…everybody can be a change maker. Collaborate with others to come up with solutions which will require social and emotional skills as well as tangible capabilities to make valuable contributions to the collaborative efforts.”