Original Source: www.gulf-times.com, 3rd May 2011
The Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar held its 2011 Commencement Ceremony yesterday at the Ritz-Carlton Doha, conferring 49 Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in fashion, graphic and interior design.
The Tenth Commencement, which also celebrates the first class of male graduates, brings the number of VCUQatar alumni to 320.
“Today signifies an important moment in your personal and professional life,” said VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone in her message to the graduating students. “You are now prepared to lead and contribute your voice to design initiatives throughout the world. You are about to join an exceptionally talented and influential group, 271 graduates of VCUQatar, that are already contributing to the professional and cultural growth of this nation and region. With the significant support of a great leader and role model, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, I know we can look to you for innovation, creativity, leadership, and service,” she added.
The ceremony marks the culmination of four years of hard work and perseverance on the part of the graduates. They have spent their time at VCUQatar fulfilling an intensive and rigorous curriculum, one designed to foster not just first-rate designers but well-rounded individuals prepared for the challenges and responsibilities of a highly complex professional world.
Students, their families, friends, faculty and staff came together to celebrate VCUQatar graduates’ accomplishments and rejoice in their venture into the professional field as they take their expertise and creative capacities to every area of design.
Sonia Ashour, founder and principal of A|G interior design consultants, delivered the commencement address to the 49 graduates during the afternoon ceremonies.
Ashour began with her journey in 1992 upon leaving Saudi Arabia to join VCU’s Master programme in interior design at Richmond, Virginia. She returned to find it had been 25 years since the first female architect graduated and yet the Ministry of Commerce was unwilling to license female architects and designers.
“I fought for the next three years. I did not just fight for the licence. I did not just fight for myself. I fought for all Saudi women. I would not have endured this period if it wasn’t for my parents. Every time I would falter, they would pick me up. When I could no longer endure the humiliation and wanted to leave, they reminded me that I was the future of this region and may not achieve more than ‘one step in the right direction,’ however this one step would set a path for the next generation to follow.”
VCU President Michael Rao addressed the graduating students during the ceremony.
“As members of VCUQatar’s tenth graduating class, we are very proud of you and your achievements,” said Rao. “For more than a decade, we have been honoured to contribute to education in the region through our collaboration with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. We are very grateful to Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, whose vision and effort brought design education to Qatar through this important partnership. It is a partnership that has enriched the lives of many, and I have no doubt it will continue to flourish well into the future,” he added.