Commencement 2019

AUP Commencement

Honors Graduating Class of 2019

On Monday, May 27, graduating global explorers in the Class of 2019 received their diplomas in the Théâtre Mogador, a historic venue in Paris’s 9th arrondissement. The end of this stage of their academic journeys signaled the beginning of exciting new adventures, as students prepared to step out into the world as alumni of The American University of Paris – ambassadors for a global community now over 20,000 strong.

The 2019 commencement ceremony saw 183 undergraduate and 41 graduate students walk, who together studied across 26 bachelor’s and 4 master’s degree programs. The event began with a welcome speech from Marc Monthéard, Vice President and Dean of Student Services and Master of Ceremonies for the symbolic occasion. Monthéard expressed his belief that graduating students would have a profound impact in their chosen fields: “Rest assured that we can’t wait to see what you will achieve and have no doubts that you will do well for yourself and the world that needs you.” AUP’s Provost, William Fisher, echoed this sentiment in his own welcome address, discussing the unique nature of the University’s internationally focused pedagogical approach: “You, as a group, exemplify these aspects of the University…founded on the ambition of finding ways to break down the barriers created by notions of narrow nationalism.”

Before the conferring of degree certificates, commendations were awarded to students, staff and faculty whose particular achievements in 2019 merited a special mention. Firstly, Chairman Raymond F. Henze III presented several awards on behalf of AUP’s Board of Trustees. The Valedictorian Award, given to the student with the highest overall results, was this year awarded to Anna Kristen – who achieved an astonishing grade point average of 3.987. The Sin-Ming Shaw Award recognizing 2019’s best final project went to Lily Schreiter, a double major in history and art history, for her thesis research detailing the transnational network of an anti-war magazine founded in 1916.

The Board also conferred faculty awards, honoring professors for exceptional performance both in and outside of the classroom. These included: the Distinguished Teaching Award, awarded to Professors Hannah Westley and Taylor Coffman; the Award for Innovation in Instructional Design, awarded to Professor Gail Hamilton; the Award for Innovation in Interdisciplinary Studies, awarded to Madeleine Czigler; and the Award for Outstanding Research and Publication, awarded to Professor Anna Russakoff.

Keep asking the questions... Keep looking for the answers. Keep enjoying what you’re doing.

Margaret MacMillan Historian, Honorary Degree Recipient

President Celeste M. Schenck continued proceedings by announcing the winners of the President’s Awards, also providing a personal laudation for each of the recipients. The GPS Award, celebrating achievement in AUP’s unique co-curricular Global Professional Skills (GPS) Program, went to the student whose final presentation most impressed the President’s judging panel. Sarah Sturman, whose presentation discussed her desire to become a fiction editor, received the commendation. The 2019 Staff Award for Distinguished Service went to Adam Puc for his work as the “unsung hero” of AUP’s maintenance team. Finally, the Distinguished Alumni Award was bestowed upon Amy Sarr Fall, whose work promoting female leadership and youth education has created sustainable change in her home country of Senegal.

The Student Government Association (SGA) also confers awards ever year. Emily Ide, President of the Graduate Student Council, and Quinn Chesser, President of the Undergraduate Student Council, took to the stage to recognize outstanding contributions to university life. This year’s SGA awards went to two students, Jacqueline Wegwerth and Nicole Santiago; two staff members, Randy Vener and Yann Louis; and two faculty members, Diane Bonneau and Robert Payne.

In a tradition dating back 35 years, AUP also awarded honorary degrees to individuals whose work provides an example of the kind of liberal arts excellence to which AUP encourages its students to aspire. President Celeste M. Schenck introduced this year’s honorees: Marian Goodman, renowned gallerist and curator of exhibition spaces in New York, Paris and London; Ali Rahmena, a beloved AUP economics professor who is known for his quality teaching and rich body of published work; and Margaret MacMillan, Professor of History at the University of Toronto, prolific author and regular media commentator on the subject of the First World War.

Each honorary recipient offered words of wisdom to the Class of 2019. “There are so many problems now that need to be resolved, and you have the great skills to realize this,” said Goodman. “The hopes of the future will turn to you to play such an important role.” Rahmena, whose passionate speech received a standing ovation, called for the coming generation not to repeat the mistakes of his own: “Please do not forget to dream of a better world at least ten minutes a day.” MacMillan spoke of the importance of history in helping us make sense of the present, and the skepticism required to ensure the lessons of the past are not misused. “Keep asking the questions,” she advised students in the audience. “Keep looking for the answers. Keep enjoying what you’re doing.”

Finally, following the conferring of degrees, two student speakers offered their own remarks to their assembled peers. Undergraduate speaker Leona Françoise Caanen spoke of the uniqueness of the AUP experience: “As we close our time at AUP, I would like to ask you all to remember the vibrant, fast-paced life of Paris, and to take these experiences and look at the future with excitement and eagerness.” Graduate speaker Courtney Danielle Kelley praised the passion and determination of her classmates. “I am honored to be here with each and every one of you,” she said. “You did it. You see your world differently. Now, Class of 2019, let’s go change the world.”

AUP congratulates graduating students for their outstanding achievements. We look forward to discovering what the Class of 2019 will accomplish in the years to come. You can watch the full commencement ceremony in the video below.