Commencement Ceremony 2023

Congratulations to AUP's Class of 2023!


The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.

These words, taken from the poem “On the Pulse of Morning” by Maya Angelou, were selected as this year’s inspirational quote for the University’s graduation program. It is symbolic of the responsible actors and empowered leaders that The American University of Paris produces. Graduation at AUP is a time to reflect on the achievements of this year's class of students, while also looking forward to the positive impact they will have on communities all over the planet. 

The global liberal arts inspire students to understand the perspectives of others, to develop creative solutions to cross-border challenges and to engage in a lifelong learning project all along a meaningful international career. The 161 undergraduates and 66 master’s students who this year walked across the stage to receive their diplomas at the historic Théâtre du Châtelet are representative of the potential for innovation, understanding, cooperation and empathy that an AUP education fosters. 

Alongside graduating students, the Commencement Ceremony was attended by parents and families, staff and faculty, and AUP’s trustees and friends. After introductory speeches from Marc Monthéard, Vice President for Student Services and Security, and William Fisher, AUP’s Provost, it was the turn of AUP’s Board Chair, Doris Daughney, to congratulate the Class of 2023. Daughney presented the following awards on behalf of the Board of Trustees: 

  • The Valedictorian Awards, which were awarded to Agata Ida Kozuchowska and Erin Kelsey Flanagan.
  • The Sin-Ming Shaw Award for an outstanding senior project, which was awarded to Paulina Trigos.
  • The Faculty Awards for outstanding teaching, innovation and research were given to professors Jula Wildberger, Tanya Elder, Hannah Taieb and Roman Zinigrad, and Carlos Suprinyak.

Each year, AUP’s Student Government Association also awards several prizes for outstanding service to the AUP community by a professor, staff and student. The outgoing SGA presidents, Morgan Smith ’23 and Dominic Spada ’22 and G’23, presented these to Sarah Salama, Motse Ntloedibe - Kuswani, Rachel Webber, Prof. Claudia Roda, Fatimata Atty Djibrine, Prof Lauren Lyric, and Dean Kevin Fore.

President Sonya Stephens, presiding over her first graduation as the University’s 13th President, also awarded several prizes: 

  • The Barbara Reno Senior Prize for Excellence in Filmmaking and Screenwriting, which went to Arianna Razavi and Maria Gibbons.
  • The Global Professional Skills (GPS) Award, which goes to the student with the best presentation of their professional pathway as part of the GPS Program, was awarded this year to Sarah Affonso.
  • The Staff Award for Distinguished Service, which this year was awarded to Ursula Darien.

Finally, President Stephens continued the long-running tradition of conferring honorary degrees to outstanding individuals who represent AUP’s founding values of global cooperation and intercultural exchange. The 2023 honorary degree recipients were as follows: 

  • The Honorable Craig R. Stapleton, who was honored for his contributions to diplomacy and educational philanthropy, as well as his valued role as an AUP trustee. Under President George W. Bush, he served as Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2001–03) and as Ambassador to France (2005–09). Today, he is Senior Advisor at Stone Point Capital, Director of Tenax Aerospace and a co-owner of the St. Louis Cardinals. 
  • Celeste M. Schenck, Stephens’ predecessor as AUP President, was honored for her three-decade-long contribution to the University, including her 13-year presidential tenure. Her achievements in that time included three successive strategic planning processes, the development of a new global liberal arts curriculum, the completion of a five-year campus redevelopment plan, and AUP’s first capital campaign, AUP Ascending, which raised €26 million. 

Following speeches from the honorary degree recipients, Director of Communications and Outreach Kilian Ordelheide, himself a graduate of the Class of 2013, welcomed graduating students to the University’s 20,000-strong alumni community, before they walked across the stage to receive their degrees. Finally, student speakers Hera Soysal ’23 and Rebecca Stone G’23 spoke on behalf of the graduating Class, signing off on their time at AUP and wishing their peers well for their next exciting steps.