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AUP Hosts Largest-Ever In-Person Graduation

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On May 23, 2022, The American University of Paris hosted a special graduation ceremony in honor of three years of global explorers at the Théatre du Châtelet in Paris, as the Class of 2022 was joined by the Classes of 2021 and 2020 for the largest-ever commencement exercises in AUP’s history.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic limiting in-person events over the last two years, the Classes of 2021 and 2020 were unable to gather in person and were instead honored through online celebrations. By inviting students back to take part in the 2022 commencement ceremony, the University was able to ensure every graduating student had the opportunity to walk across the stage in front of their peers, teachers and family members, while also acknowledging the significant challenges that students have faced from the pandemic over the last three years.

Opening remarks were provided by AUP’s Vice President of Student Services and Security, Marc Monthéard, as well as the Honorable Denise Campbell Bauer, Ambassador of the United States of America to the French Republic and to the Principality of Monaco. “It is you, our next generation of leaders, who will be called upon to use your talents, your education and your connections to find solutions to the challenges we face today,” said Campbell Bauer. “I find hope and encouragement in all of you.”

Provost Wiliam Fisher also provided a commencement address, offering his heartfelt congratulations to all three graduating classes. “You are now graduates of a university founded on an ambition of building bridges and common communities among people from diverse places, backgrounds and localities,” he said.

Fisher passed the lectern to Board Chair Doris Daughney, who presented valedictorian awards to graduating senior Natania Kosman ’22 and graduate student Kendall Smith G’22, as well as the Sin-Ming Shaw Award for an outstanding senior project to Lynn Elhadjali ’22. Daughney also presented faculty awards for outstanding teaching, innovation and research, including a special commendation for Professor Roy Rosenstein, the University’s longest-serving faculty member, who will retire this summer after 45 years of service to AUP and who led the graduation processional.

Outgoing President Celeste M. Schenck, who will also leave AUP this summer after 13 years at the head of the University, announced the annual presidential awards, including the first-ever Barbara Reno Senior Prize for Excellence in Filmmaking, which went to Serena Leilani ’22, and the Global Professional Skills Award, which was won by Kaylh Altimore ’22. The Alumni Award for Distinguished Service went to BBC journalist Kim Chakanetsa ’05 and the Presidential Award for Distinguished Achievement to longtime AUP supporters George and Irina Schaeffer.

President Schenck also conferred honorary degrees to outstanding individuals whose work exemplifies the kind of liberal arts excellence to which AUP encourages its students to aspire. This year’s recipients were Corinne Mentzelopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of Château Margaux, for her contributions to French patrimoine through the wine industry; filmmaker and alumna Leila Conners ’89, founder of the Tree Media group and director of the award-winning environmental documentary Ice on Fire; and Obioma Nnaemeka, Chancellor’s Professor of French, Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Indiana University, Indianapolis, for her extensive academic contributions in those areas.

Graduating students were then welcomed into AUP’s worldwide alumni community of global explorers by Kilian Ordelheide ’13, who encouraged them to stay connected in the years ahead. Many seniors of the Class of 2022 have already begun to give back to AUP through a donation to AUP’s first-ever Senior Class Gift Campaign, with over 65 students and 8 members of the global community donating to support environmental and sustainability issues on campus.

During the ceremony, students from all three class years walked across the stage to receive degrees from President Schenck. “As I graduate with you today,” said Schenck. “I want to salute your grit, maturity and resilience in weathering, during your student years, the trying time of Covid. The sense of responsibility you each showed for the health of others in our community, the respect with which you honored our health protocols, and the kindness you extended toward fellow students during exceptionally difficult times were inspiring to those of us who teach and guide you.”

Final words were offered by two student speakers, both selected by a panel of their classmates. Undergraduate speaker Adaeze Nwokolobia ’22 advised students to be curious and dare to defy the odds. “Be unafraid to feel everything,” she said. “The highs and the lows, the tears and the laughs, the letdowns and the lifting ups.” Graduate speaker Amelia Urwin G’22 echoed these sentiments, noting the particular context of the pandemic. “We can continue on our journeys with confidence that our education and the help we have received at this strange time in the world have prepared up to confront the great tasks awaiting us,” she said.

You can watch the full recording of this exceptional graduation event by clicking the button below.