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NU-Q Students Participate In Commencement

Tasked with making 'meaningful contributions in the world of global media'

“It was so nice to be part of the purple ocean and see everyone marching forward with life. ” – NU-Q graduating senior Sophie Jiang.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Blending into the vast sea of purple, a small band of graduating seniors from Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) joined Friday’s commencement at Ryan Field – journeying more than 7,000 miles for the celebration.

Though NU-Q’s fourth graduating class had its own ceremony last month in Qatar, 10 students traveled to Evanston to join the larger Northwestern community and represent their colleagues back home. During Senior Week events and other outings, the NU-Q students made new friends, reconnected with old ones and marveled at the beauty of the Evanston campus setting along Lake Michigan.

“It was so nice to be part of the purple ocean and see everyone marching forward with life,” said NU-Q’s Sophie Jiang. “It’s pretty exciting to join such a big family and see how it all works on a bigger scale.”

Graduating senior Marium Saeed, who was honored with NU-Q’s student leadership, appreciated the chance to feel the different energy that comes with graduating with a larger class. “I loved studying at a smaller campus and getting to know all of my professors and classmates, but being part of a much bigger celebration was an incredible experience,” she said.

As he conferred their degrees, Northwestern President Morton Schapiro tasked the group with making their mark on an international scale. “We wish you well as you rise to the challenge of making meaningful contributions in the world of global media,” Schapiro said.

For NU-Q Dean Everette Dennis, the group was a special one, in large part because of their accomplishments, dedication and spirit. The 41 members of the class of 2015 hail from 15 countries worldwide, including China, India, Egypt, Canada and Pakistan. Seventeen of the students graduated with academic honors, with 10 making the Dean’s List seven times.

Over the years, NU-Q students doggedly pursued important stories in a country that has not had a tradition of freedom of expression. One team produced a film that was recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival. Students had stories published in and worked for several prestigious publications, media and news companies, including Sports Illustrated, the Financial Times, The New York Times, Xinhua News Agency and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.  

Last month, Dennis and several members of the Doha campus came to Evanston to showcase their work at an event called the Northwestern Experience in Qatar.

“Many of them are going on to important media jobs and some of the world’s great graduate schools,” Dennis said. “We’ve never had a class quite like them. We hope every class gets better but this one is superb, spectacular and spirited.”

After graduation, the NU-Q students will scatter around the world as they pursue jobs and experiences. Before that however, several plan to take one last road trip to Portland, Oregon, stopping at Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone national parks along the way.

In addition to Jiang, the NU-Q students who participated in commencement in Evanston included Alanna Alexander, Amna Al-Saadi, Moby Buhmaid, Nissryne Dib, Jaimee Haddad, James Zach Hollo, Mahdiyeh Mahmoodzadeh, Marium Saeed and Farida Zahranj.

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