In a commencement ceremony featuring the Qatari royal family and main campus officials, the School of Foreign Service in Qatar graduated its eighth and largest cohort May 5.
The graduating class numbered 68 students, with 44 women and 24 men receiving the same Bachelor of Science in foreign service degrees conferred upon students at the D.C. campus, with available majors in international politics, international economics, international history and culture and politics.
Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the sister of the ruling emir of Qatar, delivered the commencement address at the ceremony. Sheikha Al Mayassa is a prominent art collector who serves as the chairperson of Qatar Museums and co-chair of the SFS-Q’s Joint Advisory Board. Three of her siblings in the royal family attended the School of Foreign Service in Qatar.
“Already, your fellow Hoyas have made a mark in Qatar and worldwide,” Sheikha Al Mayassa said in her address. “Tonight you join Georgetown’s extensive orbit of graduates.”
In the speech, Sheikha Al Mayassa referenced the impact left by SFS-Q graduates, offering the upcoming FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar in 2022 as an example. The chairman of Qatar’s bid to win the World Cup — a hotly debated event featuring allegations of bribery and migrant worker abuse — graduated from SFS-Q.
“If a Hoya could bring the FIFA World Cup to Qatar, I have no doubt you can achieve great things,” Sheikha Al Mayassa said. “No matter where you go, you will always be a part of Qatar Foundation and Qatar’s narrative.”
Officials from the D.C. campus were on hand to participate in the ceremony. SFS Dean Joel Hellman, in his first commencement ceremony since assuming the position last July, presented the candidates and University President John J. DeGioia conferred the degrees on the 68 graduates.
“During your time on campus, you’ve come to know the practice of pilgrimage, the commitment to a journey,” DeGioia said in his closing reflections at the event. “We celebrate today a significant moment in your lives, the beginning of great things to come. Congratulations on taking the next step in your journey.”
The ceremony was the final commencement presided by SFS-Q Dean Gerd Nonneman, who assumed the position in 2011 and will step down in June, returning to the faculty as a professor of international relations. Senior Associate Dean of the SFS James Reardon-Anderson will replace Nonneman and serve from July 2016 to July 2018.
Last February, when the school celebrated its 10th anniversary, Nonneman reflected on the impact of SFS-Q graduates in an interview with The Hoya.
“The Jesuit enterprise has always been about going out there and engaging on the frontiers,” Nonneman said. “In the broader debate that goes on within Qatar about how they want to take that society forward … we’re a small fish, but I think we’re a small and exquisitely formed fish that actually has an impact which is bigger than its numbers imply.”