Bethlehem University held the 45th graduation ceremonies on Tuesday, 29 June 2021, and Thursday, 1 July 2021, conferring the degrees on 746 graduates from the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Education, Institute of Hotel Management and Tourism, the Shucri Ibrahim Dabdoub Faculty of Business Administration, the Faculty of Science, and the Tarek Juffali Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences, amid strict health measures to preserve public safety.
Members of the University’s Board of Trustees, the mayors of Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, a representative of Bethlehem Governor, in addition to faculty members and the graduates’ families attended the ceremony which was held under strict health measures due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
Dr. Said Ayyad, Chairman of the Arabic Department, served as Master of Ceremonies and opened the graduation ceremony with the National Anthem of Palestine followed by the University Anthem.
Brother Peter Bray, FSC, EdD, Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, congratulated the graduates and their families and said “We are proud that the mutual efforts of parents and Bethlehem University allows us to graduate another cohort of graduates, this year the 45th group. Thank you for that support.”
“Since its inception in 1973, Bethlehem University has continued to develop its programs and expand its facilities. In 2023, Bethlehem University will celebrate its 50th Jubilee. Part of that celebration will be the full implementation of a comprehensive Review that Bethlehem University started last year. This Review will focus on matters related to finding better ways to serve the Palestinian youth through the majors offered and the best practices in teaching and learning, as well as research. We want our students to feel proud that they are graduates of Bethlehem University,” he added.
Dr. Ayyad conveyed a message from the Chair and Board members of the Bethlehem University Foundation congratulating the graduates on their graduation despite the difficult circumstances they went through in the past period.
The message read “We at the Bethlehem University Foundation in the United States are so proud of your accomplishments. You weathered some difficult times, the Covid 19 pandemic, and the recent hostilities, yet you persevered and now can celebrate getting your diplomas. We know that the diplomas you have earned and the things you have learned will be used to help your families and communities. Congratulations on your well-deserved success.”
Keynote speech was given by Dr. Mai Al-Kaila, the Palestinian Minister of Health, who congratulated the graduates and their families and thanked Bethlehem University for its continuous cooperation with the ministry.
“You are our future and the future of Palestine. Palestine depends on you, be up to the responsibility to build the homeland and its institutions, defeat the occupation, and achieve the desired freedom with your knowledge and belonging as you are the backbone of this country,” Dr. Al-Kaila said.
Then, Brother Peter Bray presented a plaque of appreciation to the Minister Dr. Al-Kaila in appreciation of her efforts in confronting the Corona pandemic.
The graduates’ speech on the first day was delivered by Sister Noura Karra’a, a graduate of the Faculty of Arts, with a BA in Religious Studies, who thanked the faculty, administrative staff, and parents for their support of the students.
“I thank all the professors who accompanied us during our journey at the university and did their best to transfer their knowledge to us to be the builders of our future and our society. We also thank our families and friends who have supported us and were the candle that illuminated our path with their advice and patience,” Karra’a said.
About her experience in university life at Bethlehem University, Qarra’a said, “Being a nun from the Congregation of the Holy Rosary, my experience was distinguished in this university, which was and still is a place of coexistence, sincere love, and acceptance of the other.”
Hind Khair, the valedictorian of the 45th cohort, gave the second-day graduate speech and said that studying during the pandemic made her more committed to the nursing profession as it carries an important humanitarian message.
“Overnight, the doors were closed, we sat in our homes, and the pandemic spread all over the world. Everyone worked from home except for nurses. Everyone felt a kind of warmth and reassurance at home and among family members, except for nurses. Amid those difficult days, I realized my profession is great,” Khair said.
“To be a nurse means to be a human being and help everyone accordingly regardless of race, color, gender, religion and social status. I realized that we grew up believing that happiness lies in receiving, but believe me, it lies in giving,” Khair concluded.
During the first day, Bethlehem University conferred upon Malak Halasa the Academic Excellence Award in Hotel Management and Tourism established by Mrs. Wedad Abu Dayyeh. Mr. Hani Abu Dayyeh, handed over the award for the second year in a row. This award is given to the student who obtains the highest grade in the Institute of Hotel Management and Tourism, to encourage female students to engage in the tourism sector.
Vice-Chancellor Brother Peter Bray, and assisted by Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Irene Hazou conferred the degrees and diplomas to the graduates.
At the end of the ceremonies, the deans of the five faculties and Institute of Hotel Management and Tourism called upon their graduates to receive their degrees and diplomas from Brother Peter Bray, Vice Chancellor, who was assisted by Dr. Irene Hazou, Vice President for Academic Affairs.