The sun was shining and spirits were high as thousands of jubilant family members and friends gathered on Commencement Lawn Monday evening to celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2017, held under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II.
Addressing the 137 students of King’s largest graduating class to date, Headmaster John Austin highlighted their many achievements and reminded them that the challenges they have overcome make their accomplishments all the more impressive.
“With these efforts you have imbued the school with energy, a sense of purpose, creativity, and kindness, making it a better place,” said Austin. “I am humbled by the strength of your friendships, by your eloquence, your sense of humor, your care for the future of this country and, not least, of how far you have come as students during your time here.”
In his Arabic oration, Amr Almghawish poetically voiced the class’ commitment to upholding the ideals of their school, and returning to Jordan to put their new-found knowledge to good use, “Now we launch our ships around the world to discover that which unites us and put an end to that which tears us apart. We pledge to return to our homelands to spread goodness, knowledge and tolerance, and carry the flag of faith and understanding.”
Praising her fellow graduates, Dina Kuttab remarked in her English oration that while most of the world was “putting their hand over the candle flame of injustice, and pushing through the pain,” King’s Academy seniors do not turn a blind eye to injustice.
“From our first day here, we are taught that we will be leaders,” said Kuttab. “That doesn’t mean that we will all be prime ministers, investment bankers and surgeons. It means that we will not sit back and be complacent to the injustice of the world.”
“Class of 2017, we are about to go off into the world. But if there is one thing we have learned from King’s, let it be this: throw away the candle, scream “I mind it!”, and go change the world.”
Austin then presented the two most prestigious awards given during Commencement: The Academy Cup, which was awarded to Sheila Baber for being a “leading scholar whose academic work has been characterized by deep scholarship, curiosity, and a love of learning,” and the King Abdullah II Award, which went to Dina Kuttab and Muhammad Nasir for “fully embodying the ethos, spirit and guiding principles of the Academy.”
Next to take the floor to give the Commencement address was Mohamad Haj Hassan, a tech entrepreneur and founder of two successful Jordanian start-ups: Akhtaboot and Jawaker, who offered the graduates honest and practical advice gleaned from his own work challenges and experiences.
“Let me tell you two facts about Jordan and our part of the world,” said Haj Hassan. “There are a lot of problems, and there are tons of unique ways to solve them.”
He encouraged the graduates to look for their own unique solutions. “You have been blessed with a dichotomy of perspectives. You are from and for this great country of ours, and you are also worldly in your knowledge and exposure. The unique solutions that are waiting to be discovered are sitting in plain sight for the ones who proudly wear the dual-lensed glasses of both perspectives.”
Haj Hassan also admitted – with chagrin – how, when he started his first company, he had thought of the economics of making money first while the impact was simply a by-product, before learning a valuable lesson upon seeing first-hand the impact his business had on people’s lives.
“The truth as I see it now is different: if you think of impact first, the economics will follow as a by-product,” he said. “Serving others and adding value to their lives is and should be the core focus of one's professional life, don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.”
This year’s graduates are off to some of the world’s most reputable colleges and universities, including Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Yale-NUS, Northwestern University, Georgetown University, Tufts University, Wellesley College, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University of Manchester, American University of Beirut, Jacobs University, Bard College Berlin, Bocconi University, Ryerson University, and the University of Alberta, to name just a few.
In addition to receiving a wide range of acceptances from top institutions, seniors also earned an impressive amount of financial aid awards and scholarships, totaling around US $5.05 million to be used during their four-year matriculations.