Most of us look back on the year in December or January, but for academic institutions the year ends when a new batch of students graduate. The hot summer months are just the right time for looking back on the entire year and reminiscing on how packed and exciting the year was for one of our favorite universities in Kuwait: the American University of Kuwait (AUK).
During the summer months leading up to the new 2017-2018 academic year, Shaikha Dana Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, Founder and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Kuwait was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Dartmouth College. Darthmouth recognized nine accomplished men and women who have made impactful contributions to their communities. It is always wonderful to start or end a new year with a bang.
Exciting things were also happening over the summer and before the year officially started. Two students, Leena El Hawary and Yara E. AlQuorashy won the AUK Study Abroad Summer Programs Scholarship. The young women spent six weeks immersed in education and life in George Washington University. The scholarship is part of the University’s commitment to providing students with more global educational experiences.
By September 2017, it was time to welcome returning and new students back to campus. The Office of Student Life organized a welcome back barbecue, with music performances and a production of West Side Story by the Department of Music & Drama.
Welcome Week is the best way to integrate new students to their new and exciting life at university and is a great chance for old students to catch up with their friends before everyone needs to get their head down for studying. The faculty and staff went head-to-head with the students in competitive sport events.
A movie night and a Club Fair were just some of the other events that happened during the week. AUK is committed to its academics but is also invested in its students’ wellness and extracurricular activities because it knows that well-rounded students are better equipped for life beyond the walls of its campus.
It is probably why students like Shaikha AlOfan, a student in the Department of Art & Graphic Design qualified for the semifinals of the 2017 Adobe Design Achievement Awards. She was selected as one of the 642 semifinalists, out of a total of 2444 entrants. The university offers a rich and diverse selection of clubs, groups and opportunities for students to explore, create and grow within their formal education and beyond. Students are constantly supported and encouraged to find their own voices and then use them.
From hosting the Inspirational Talks Forum by the Student Council to opening the Art and Music Therapy rooms, there is always an opportunity for students to explore their creative and introspective sides. Students and staff can try out different musical instruments or try new mediums for their artistic expressions. In the age of anxiety and stress, these spaces promote mental health, wellbeing and a sense of community. All of which are core values at AUK.
There is a lot of focus on creativity and arts on campus, but STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are just as important too. In October, the Center for RISE held a talk entitled, “To Mars and Beyond: Women Leading the Way in Space Exploration and STEM” by Dr. Kim Binsted, Professor of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Hawaii and Principal Investigator of the NASA-funded HI-SEAS project. This confirms AUK’s commitment to the sciences and the advancement of women in these fields.
The students are driven by this environment to achieve more, and in November alone, two AUK teams qualified for the Advanced stages of the Global Management Challenge in Dubai, a Computer Engineering graduate won the best poster award at an International ACS/IEEE Conference in Tunisia and students represented Kuwait at the Fourth Volunteering Youth Forum in Qatar.
In February, sixteen students travelled to India to help teach children and repair school chairs and tables in impoverished areas. The following month eight students flew to the Netherlands to take part in the Diwaniya Project which aims to enrich cultural and academic relations and to increase communication between Kuwait and the Netherlands.
March was just as busy, as four students majoring in Graphic Design were among the winners of the TypoDay 2018 Poster Competition. Lindsay Gomes, a first-year student won the prize for a digital art poster in COMFEST’s movie poster design competition. From the very creative to the very serious, members of the Model United Nations students at AUK, participated in the United Ambassadors Model United Nations Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The team was awarded the Outstanding Delegation Award for the second year in a row and several team members received individual awards. It is inspirational students like these that make us hopeful for the future of Kuwait.
While the students were busy doing their thing all year, the staff and faculty were even busier ensuring that AUK as an academic institution remained at the top of its field. The Tutoring Center at the American University of Kuwait’s Learning Support Services was awarded the International AUK Campus- Salmiya Founder and Chair of the Board of Trustees of AUK Shaikha Dana Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah is awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Dartmouth College Tutor Training Program Certification by the College Reading and Learning Association. Dartmouth College and AUK renewed their institutional cooperative agreement that promises to build on the success of a 15-year relationship. The University and the French Sciences Po signed a memorandum of understanding to establish cultural and scholarly interactions between their students.
But one of the most exciting things to happen this year at the university was hosting the first TEDxAUK Conference on campus. The theme for the event was “RISE”; embracing life’s challenges, overcoming adversity, learning, personal growth, and self-actualization. Speakers from all over Kuwait and the world including entrepreneurs, media leaders, scientists, innovators, and poets took to the stage to talk about what RISE means to them. Conferences like TED are the birthplace of dialogue that helps propel communities and societies forward.
Like any educational institution, the year ends by saying goodbye to the graduates. It is a bittersweet celebration of the end of university life and the start of entering the real world. The class of 2018 officially graduated on Thursday the 7th of June. A total of 424 students became AUK graduates. Not only do we welcome them into the workforce, but we’re also pretty sure that whatever these young men and women decide to do, they will excel at it. Because for the last four years, they were immersed in a community that valued an ethic of excellence, hard work and creativity.
These were just some of the highlights of a very full year at AUK. Yet, it is a typical year where students impress us with their creativity and ingenuity and the faculty wow us with their commitment to the institution that supports and empowers the next generation that will be changing the world. It is promising.
If you are interested in applying to AUK or finding out more about what they can offer you for furthering your education visit their website http://www.auk.edu.kw. You can also follow them on social media to stay up-to-date with their news on Instagram @auk_kuwait, Twitter @AUKTweets and Facebook @AUKuwait.