The Joint Master’s of Geography of Environment and Human Security recently gathered in the Langer Eugen at the UN Campus and online to celebrate the graduation of 41 students. Although it was a hybrid format, it marked the return of an in-person graduation ceremony after a two-year pause from the pandemic.
The ceremony kicked off with a virtual address from the Director of UNU-EHS and Vice-Rector of UNU in Europe, Professor Dr. Shen Xiaomeng, who offered inspiration to the graduates. “You are a part of the voices and drivers of change. You will be leading the way toward sustainable development and I wish you all success in this endeavor. And a life full of meaning, purpose, joy and fun,” she said.
Next were ceremonial speeches from Deputy Director of UNU-EHS and Head of the Joint Academic Board, Dr. Zita Sebesvari, and Professor Dr. Klaus Greve from the Geography Department at the University of Bonn. “The world is waiting for you. You are very qualified and well-trained. Experience shows that your capacities are needed,” urged Greve.
Several graduates representing different cohorts then took to the podium to tell their personal stories. Subha Dharani Ramesh Kumar (2016-2018) told of how she took on the programme while at the same time becoming a mother. Mohammed Datona Mohammed (2017-2019) shared the challenges and excitement of moving from Ethiopia to Germany. Qiyamud Din (2019-2021) of Afghanistan spoke of making it through his studies despite instability back home and of his hope to return one day.
Christopher Thomas (2019-2021) provided a motivating speech on adaptation and perseverance. “Chase a dream. If one fails, try again. Perseverance is not just overcoming barriers but also displaying your ability to adapt. For that is essentially what we all learned,” he said to his fellow graduates.
In closing, Angela Beckmann-Wuebbelt, Johanna Callies, Benedetta Nimshani Khawe Thanthrige, Nathalie Saenger, Melanie Schwarz and Lorina Shudel read a joint speech that took their cohort down the memory lane. As they rotated speakers, a PowerPoint presentation full of photos of their time together played. It was a reminder that while they part ways as classmates, their friendships and memories will remain.
The ceremony offered an opportunity to make some final memories and the chance to get back to in-person traditions. After the speeches, each student was awarded a flower and their certificate. As their names were called, friends, family and classmates cheered them on. After facing the rigors of academic life, enduring online lectures and writing their theses, it was a moment of triumph.
To complete the day’s programme, the 23 graduates on hand filed down to the main steps of the Langer Eugen to take a group photo. While every ceremony takes on this small tradition, it was a relieving moment to see it happen in person again.
The graduates bring the total number of alumni to over 150. Many of them are working around the world for organizations and NGOs such as Allianz, CARE, the Green Climate Fund, the World Bank and REACH. Others have continued their academic careers, taking on PhDs at the University of Bonn, University of Copenhagen, the University of Glasgow and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.
Their success underscores the critical role of UNU-EHS as an educator. As Director Shen Xiaomeng put it in her address, “Even in our mission, education is an important component. We want to train and educate the next generation of scientists, but most importantly the thought leaders for the future.”
The Joint Master’s Programme in Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security is jointly offered by UNU-EHS and the University of Bonn, Department of Geography. To learn more about our alumni and alumni network check out our LinkedIn Alumni page.