Day Ambassadors of Canada, India, and Rwanda Converged in Yola to Celebrate AUN’s Bright Lights

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The 15th Commencement ceremony of the American University of Nigeria (AUN), held on May 18, 2024, has passed, yet its memories will endure for years. The event was a momentous occasion for the numerous

By Kewe Ogumu

The 15th Commencement ceremony of the American University of Nigeria (AUN), held on May 18, 2024, has passed, yet its memories will endure for years. The event was a momentous occasion for the numerous guests in the expansive Commencement Hall at the University in Yola and the thousands streaming online. AUN’s finest students took center stage, showcasing why the university is respected as one of Africa’s best. The valedictorian, class speakers, and other graduating seniors delivered inspiring speeches, displaying their grasp of issues and oratory prowess. Their confidence and grooming were apparent, as was their command of public speaking skills; they radiated brilliance. Overall, it was an unforgettable event that highlighted the rich academic and extracurricular excellence of the Yola-based American-style liberal arts university, now celebrating its twentieth year. The students’ exceptional performances on stage truly embodied AUN’s ethos of excellence, integrity, and service.

Three top diplomats and one executive governor were among the dignitaries that joined the University’s Founder, His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, GCON, Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, Professor Kaletapwa Farauta, University President, Dr. DeWayne Frazier, an American, and many other eminent guests to cheer the graduating students who were surrounded by their proud parents, families and friends. The ambassadors of Canada, India, and Rwanda added diplomatic panache to the inspiring ceremony. Their presence marked an important milestone for the university and confirmed the statements made by President DeWayne Frazier in various interviews he granted to journalists that Yola and Adamawa State are very safe, contrary to negative perceptions to the contrary. The envoys mixed freely with guests and there was no overzealous retinue of security blanket around them as one would expect in a tense atmosphere.

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The Graduation ceremony was also graced by another high-profile attendee, the Executive Governor of Katsina State, His Excellency Dikko Umar Radda. Accompanied by his charming wife, he came to support their daughter, who was graduating. Last year, another of his daughters graduated from AUN, and the Governor, amidst his busy schedule and historic inauguration preparations, ensured his attendance. Known for his charismatic personality, Governor Dikko Umar Radda is seen as a refreshing figure in Nigerian politics, earning him considerable respect among the youth on social media. An accomplished scholar with a doctorate in Agriculture and Rural Sociology, the esteemed former Director General of Nigeria’s Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) and past Chairman of Charanchi Local Government Council of Katsina (2003 – 2008), is also a staunch advocate of AUN’s excellence. He conveyed his positive views on the American University of Nigeria to the press right after the ceremony.

“AUN has almost every facility for learning and teaching in a world class standard campus, I see no reason why I will send my ward abroad while the things needed are here”.

AUN President Dr. DeWayne Frazier opened the ceremony with a motivating speech praising the graduating students for their dedication to excellence. “You are not just educated and book-smart, but also great entrepreneurs,” he remarked. He encouraged the graduates to pursue their paths and not be influenced by others’ opinions. “Have the courage to follow your hearts and intuition. Life is not about the number of breaths you take but about the moments that take your breath away.” Dr. Frazier, who had completed one year as President of the University on that occasion, also expressed his gratitude to the AUN learning community for their unwavering support.

Valedictorian Efezino Onyeke, a 2024 law graduate and the immediate past president of the Law Students Society (LSS), delivered an inspiring address. She highlighted that AUN had always been her preferred university due to its values and priority on academic excellence. Ms. Onyeke’s favorite Stallion activities include Homecoming, Concerts, the Honors Society retreat, and Founder’s Day, when Honors Society members are recognized with gold medals. She thanked President DeWayne Frazier for his visionary and courageous leadership.

Ms. Onyeke urged undergraduates to continue striving for excellence. “Never squeeze yourself into a box and feel like you can’t come out; never stop challenging yourself and seeking the best. AUN has prepared us to thrive in all phases of life,” she stated. Ms. Onyeke also thanked His Excellency Atiku Abubakar for founding the university and his continued support in making AUN the premier university in Nigeria. She concluded with a motivating message to her fellow graduates: “Let us go into the world and show them what we are made of. Let us step into the world with success in our minds.”

Class Speaker Salome A. Bulu, a Communications and Multimedia Design graduate, emphasized the holistic development provided by AUN. ” In my first year, when I arrived at the Yola airport and saw AUN volunteer students helping new students with their baggage and making them feel at ease, I realized the importance of providing service to others.

AUN molds your mindset into something extraordinary that extends beyond academics,” she noted. Bulu expressed her appreciation to the AUN community, parents, and the university’s leadership. She quoted one of her instructors who told her that, ” excellence is a character, grit, positivity and the desire to soar above the norm”. She encouraged her peers to strive for excellence and believe in their potential. “You may not have graduated with a first-class, but you’ve graduated with a mindset that can change the world. Excellence in the little things is where world-changing begins.” She ended her speech with a thought-provoking question: “What can you see?”

Keynote Speaker, Professor Mike A.A. Ozekhome, the respected human rights activist and accomplished law academic, urged the graduates to embark on a journey of self-discovery. He encouraged them to uncover their purpose, harness their natural skills and abilities, and ignite their passions. “Determine your unique factors,” he advised. The lawyer-intellectual also counseled the graduates to create a business map, discover their values and ambitions, and strive to make a positive impact on others, while emphasizing the importance of documenting and sharing experiences, building relationships with integrity, and planning for the future. “Your legacy is the footprint you leave behind,” he said, while urging them to ensure they enjoy the process of creating it, for everyone has a legacy to leave.

As the proud graduates filed out exultantly to receive their diplomas, signifying a major milestone in their educational paths, it was apparent one had witnessed a historic rite of passage. The ceremony was a vibrant celebration of the accomplishments and prospective contributions of AUN’s graduates, highlighting the university’s philosophy of fostering leadership and innovation. Apart from the excellent education they received, each graduate had participated in community service, which has helped them cultivate a service culture, a distinct feature of the AUN experience.

Ms. Kewe Ogumu, a Corps Member serving in Yola, Adamawa State, can be reached on [email protected].

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