The Anglo-American University and Chapman University MBA classes of 2024 celebrated the completion of their studies in two commencement ceremonies on June 21, 2024. Both ceremonies were held at the historic Bethlehem Chapel in Prague’s Old Town–one at 9:30 am and another at 1 pm to accommodate this year’s large number of graduates.

Proceedings were overseen by Master of Ceremonies Jeff Medeiros and commenced with a rendering of the US and Czech national anthems by soprano Karolína Cingrošová, in a nod to AAU’s accreditation by both American and Czech bodies. After this, Medeiros welcomed guests and introduced the dignitaries present on-stage, which included AAU President Jiří Schwarz and noted Czech senator and diplomat Pavel Fischer, along with the school deans, vice-presidents, and department chairs.

President Schwarz delivered the opening address, in which he reflected on the significance of the event and the sometimes trying journey graduates had undertaken to reach this point. Praising the resilience and adaptability of scholars, faculty, and staff, particularly amidst the challenges posed by the global pandemic and geopolitical uncertainties, he expressed confidence in the preparation graduates had received from the university. 

“Our school has taught them critical thinking [and] the use of modern, scientifically-based working methods…and skills,” he remarked. “I am confident that graduates of Anglo-American University are well-prepared not only for further, post-graduate study but also for launching a successful professional career.”

In the morning ceremony, commencement remarks were given by Dr. Bruce Dehning, associate dean at Chapman University’s School of Business and Economics, whose MBA program is offered through AAU’s School of Business Administration. Dehning remarked on the dual nature of the graduation-commencement milestone, describing graduation as a moment of culmination and commencement as a new chapter in the lives of graduates.

Senator Fischer delivered the ceremony’s keynote address, recounting aspects of his career in public service, namely his time working in the office of the great statesman Václav Havel, and emphasizing the importance of leadership, considerateness, and the courage to stand by one’s beliefs. These, he said, were attributes exemplified in the character of Havel and ones he strongly urged graduates to cultivate in their own lives. Fischer likewise stressed the broader significance of the commencement and the impact he hoped graduates would have on the world at large.

“This moment is important to you [and] to your families, but also for society as a whole,” he said. “The knowledge you have gained, the skills you have earned, will help shape the future not only for you but also for us.”  

Following a performance of George Philipp Telemann’s Sonata in D Major by the by organ and trumpet duo Michal Hanzal and František Bílek, degrees were conferred by President Schwarz, with the assistance of Admissions Director Clea Boban and school deans. 

Afterward, speaking to her fellow graduates during the morning ceremony, valedictorian and marketing and communications graduate Katerina Greveni looked back on her time at AAU, acknowledging the support she and her classmates had received from faculty and staff and the remarkable esprit de corps she had experienced within the student community. 

“AAU stands apart from [other] academic institutions in that we are one of the most socially active and mobilized student bodies that I have ever had the pleasure to be involved [with],” said the five-time Merit-based Scholarship recipient. “I couldn’t have made a better decision, for my personal growth, my professional career, and, most importantly, my academic career.” 

Greveni went on to speak of the privilege of her own education, recognizing the barriers to accessing higher learning for many young people in other parts of the world and expressed a desire that this would change for the better. In closing, she exhorted her classmates to stand in solidarity with scholars worldwide and to “never lose the passion to inspire meaningful societal change”.

Standing before her classmates in the afternoon ceremony, valedictorian and international relations graduate Nawal Badurová voiced her own sentiments of gratitude for the support she had received from AAU’s faculty and staff and the financial aid that had, effectively, made her education possible. 

“This generous support has not only alleviated the financial burden on myself but also empowered me to focus fully on my studies and my personal growth,” she asserted. “This university’s generosity has changed lives.”

Badurová, whose entire education since her second semester had been covered through the Merit-based Scholarship, went on to speak to the enduring bonds she had seen forged in her time at the university and encouraged her fellow graduates to continue striving for excellence while making a positive impact in their communities. 

Both ceremonies concluded with the traditional “turning of the tassel” and hat toss, and a performance by Hanzal, Bílek, and Cingrošová of “Gaudeamus”, a musical piece of medieval extraction celebrating the joys of youth and academic life, as graduates and dignitaries exited. Photographs and general mingling followed. 

Additional photos and a video recording of the event may be found here and here, respectively.