The Graduation Ceremony for the Amsterdam University College Class of 2018 took place on Monday, 9 July, at Koninklijk Theater Carré in the heart of Amsterdam. With more than 245 graduates, the Class of 2018 was one of the largest in AUC’s history and their accomplishments were celebrated with a ceremony full of speeches, performances by students and the ceremonial conferring of degrees.
Taking place at Koninklijk Theater Carré for the third time, the graduation ceremony was hosted by third-year AUC Student Council member Suzanne Broer and third-year AUC Student Association president Ishvar Lalbahadoersing. The ceremony began with the grand entrance of all students, presenting the 2018 graduates to their family, friends and invited guests. Prof. Dr. Murray Pratt (Dean, AUC) then offered some words of welcome and introduced the 2018 Commencement Speaker, Ms. Domenica Ghidei Biidu (Deputy Human Rights Commissioner at the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, Member of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, Member of AUC International Advisory Board).
Ms. Ghidei Biidu delivered quite a personal Commencement Address, recounting her own story of coming to the Netherlands from Eritrea at 17 and, through perseverance, determination, and opportunity, was able to pursue her degree in higher education. She further emphasised that such great privileges (of traveling, of freely pursuing education, of opportunities for employment) come with great responsibility, and that students should recognise and use their knowledge/talents to give back and support those in their communities.
After this message of hope, the subsequent four rounds of conferring of degrees began, where each of the graduating students had their name read aloud and walked the stage to receive their ceremonial certificates. Each round was kicked-off by a brief speech by one of AUC's tutors: Dr. Olaf Tans, Dr. Jonathan Gill, Dr. Minou Schraven and Dr. Erinç Salor. Their speeches not only included humorous anecdotes and meaningful stories, but also motivational words that related how they themselves have grown and learned from their tutees.
Continuing an AUC tradition, the four rounds of conferring of degrees were punctuated with different musical performances by AUC students. For the first performance, Vincent Franz played a piece an original arrangement on the using elements of Toccata in D and Fugue in Bb by Johann Sebastian Bach. The following performance saw more of the AUC community getting involved with the 11 person OnStage Choir taking the stage to perform a mash-up of Michael Jackson, Chance the Rapper and their rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Julie Divakova offered a wonderfully contemplative cover of the The Dø’s “Dust it off,” playing the piano and providing the vocals for the third interlude. The final interlude ended on a high note with a band featuring both current AUC students and alumni Marie Chaplet, Eva Bottinga, Mateo Sanchez Petrement, Teus Hagen and Tadé Hogenelst playing a mash-up of songs by Stevie Wonder.
After the final conferring of degrees, former AUC Alumni Association (AUCAA) Vice President Andy Daab and current AUCAA President Anouk ter Linde delivered a speech to welcome the Class of 2018 to the alumni community, and express how this community not only stays active, but continues to inspire them years after graduating.
AUC Student Life Officer Vinika Porwal continued this message of inspiration through community in her own speech. Full of humour and advice, Ms. Porwal’s speech reminded graduates that while one cannot plan their future, it is the unexpected, sometimes difficult, and possibly imperfect moments that often lead to the most fulfilling journey.
The final speech of the evening was delivered by the 2018 AUC Valedictorian, Paul Lodder. Lodder offered words of wisdom to the audience by discussing his own path through AUC and how the diversity of his classmates encouraged him to be true to himself, follow his own interests and grow to be part of a truly special community that is AUC.
The ceremony officially came to a close with the traditional throwing of hats and the ordered exit of the AUC procession, new alumni and their guests. AUC would once again like to congratulate all the graduates on their accomplishments and thank all those who attended, gave speeches and made the graduation ceremony possible.