A full house: the Issam Fares Conference Hall at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) celebrated the Pinning Ceremony of the Class of 2022 on Wednesday, June 15. Graduates of each Faculty took to their seats, later the stage to receive their pin, and finally the vow initiating them into their role as NDU Alumni. The sight of the assembly was refreshing; post-pandemic and mid-national crisis, the energy of a new Class of educated, driven, and resilient youth could not be ignored. In the presence of NDU President, Fr. Bechara Khoury, the Vice President for Administration and Finance (VPAF), Abbot Semaan Abou Abdou, the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), Dr. Michel El Hayek, and the Assistant Vice President for Academic Support (AVAS), Dr. Simon Abou Jaoude, the graduates entered their next chapter.
Moderated by Ms. Nesrine Sfeir, Director of the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, the Ceremony welcomed the guest speakers, Alumni Mr. Elie Hanna (BS’93), President of the NDU Alumni Association, and Mr. Marwan Moukarzel (BBA’96), who returned to address the graduating class with words of encouragement, hope, and the importance of integrity.
Mr. Hanna began his speech with a firm and earnest statement: “Tonight, we are not concerned with the difficult circumstances that the country is facing. Tonight is a night of celebration, in the company of faces lit with pride, hearts full of joy, who proved that perseverance and honest effort lead to success. Congratulations.” His address continued to announce the induction of an Alumni Association Platform and Application, an online network ensuring that Alumni remain in touch with both the University and one another.
Further announcements included the future launching of Alumni Chapters not only in the NDU North Lebanon (NLC) and Shouf Campuses (SC), but expanding the ties of the University abroad in Cyprus, Oman, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, joining the Chapters in the UAE and Qatar. The achievements of the Alumni Association hope to reach further heights, including scholarships and fundraising to support students and graduates during the financial and economic crisis, as well as the establishment of an Alumni House at the NDU Old Campus.
Mr. Hanna concluded with a final word to the graduates, stating, “Class of 2022, on Friday, you will officially be declared Graduates of NDU. Good luck as you make your way through this challenging world, and I am confident that you will leave it better than you found it, simply because you are NDU Graduates.”
As with Mr. Hanna, the anticipated introduction of Mr. Moukarzel was worth the wait. The newly appointed CEO International of Fawaz Al Hokair Group stood at the podium, starting with a heartfelt address to the graduating class that no matter the circumstances, it is imperative that “you pursue your passion. I promise, if you do so, you will deliver, and you will make it.”
He proceeded to advise the Class to keep an open mind and take calculated risks, with the reminder that no matter the occupation they find themselves in, success is secondary to genuine connections: “It is all about people, integrity, and values. . . . What ultimately matters is how we treat each other. Mr. Moukarzel continued, "When you become successful, always remember to remain humble. . . . Continue your education, as it is your greatest investment. Every field evolves, and you must make sure to keep up. There is always something new to learn.”
A common concern with new graduates is the competitiveness of the job market, the ups and downs that come with a career. Mr. Moukarzel did not sugarcoat this reality, but neither did he give into it. “Those who succeed are often considered lucky,” he said, “Let me tell you now: luck does not exist, but preparedness does. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. No one is lucky, but someone is always prepared. Make sure it’s you.”
The Pinning Ceremony culminated in a powerful delivery from Fr. Khoury, who stated, “You need to remember that you are not only graduates of this University, but also its children. . . . You can change everything about yourself, but never deny that this is where you came from. When you return to NDU, no one will ever take away that sense of belonging that you have built up over the years.”
Moreover, the NDU President asserted that the University and the Class of 2022 lack no advantage: “You are part of the best system of higher education by international standards, in terms of its infrastructure and organization, that we call NDU.”
Speaking to the students, the Reverend Father insisted, “You are not allowed to carry any insecurity or sense of inferiority. With you, we have everything working for us to trespass any limitation, and this is what births true graduates.” Likewise, speaking of the University and its administration, he said, “Because you are with us, we are not allowed to fail you. Because your parents raised you, tire endlessly to provide for you, and sleep every night caring for you, we must also carry you; from Lebanon to the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) to the UN, we need to show that this is how you raise men and women. Otherwise, we cannot call ourselves a university.”
Fr. Khoury’s words of encouragement and sincerity closed with an imploration that the Class of 2022 be proud that they are NDU Alumni, that they remember that they are part of a legacy, and the University will always be their mother.
The graduates took their vow, then. Following this defining moment, they convened outside the Hall for a reception as Alumni, the status symbol of which was proudly pinned to their chests above their hearts. The Pinning Ceremony is a reminder that nothing ends here; the Class of 2022 continued to the Commencement Rehearsal, taking their rightful place in line in preparation for the conferral of degrees. After all, they’ve earned it.