The American University of Beirut conferred four honorary doctorate degrees and 514 graduate diplomas at the University’s 148th commencement ceremony held on Friday, June 2. A total of 16 doctoral, 403 master’s, and 95 medical degrees were awarded to the graduate class of 2017.
In his opening speech, AUB President Fadlo R. Khuri spoke about the power of inevitable doubt and introspection in effecting meaningful change and service for the common good.
This year’s recipients of AUB’s honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters include scientist Huda Akil; philanthropist and former first lady Mouna Haraoui; music composer, producer, and performer Simon Shaheen; and best-selling author and activist Ahdaf Soueif.
Mouna Haraoui expressed in her acceptance speech how she felt further empowered by the recently bestowed honorary degree to persevere in her contributions to Lebanon’s wellbeing.
Simon Shaheen captivated the audience with a special violin performance after he encouraged the students to use their “unique talent and education to build their own bridges” between cultures as he has done through his music.
Witness to social movements seeking a decent life for all, Ahdaf Soueif said that AUB graduates are “excellently equipped” to make a difference in a world facing “a battle between those who want a decent life for everyone… and those who can only comprehend narrow interests.”
In her keynote speech at the ceremony, world-renowned expert on the neurobiology of emotions, Dr. Huda Akil, defined what she calls “active resilience” as “the art of fighting the odds and emerging not only whole, but triumphant and joyful,” the result of internal resources to cope with stress and become stronger.
Akil argued that three factors harness this positive remodeling of the brain: social support; “emotional algebra” or balancing positive and negative emotions so the positive predominates; and reaching beyond oneself to help others.