Geneva Commencement 2019: Celebrating 40 Years in Switzerland


On Saturday, May 11th, Webster University Geneva hosted its annual Commencement Ceremony at the Intercontinental Hotel to celebrate and recognize 93 new graduates from across 47 countries who earned bachelor degrees, master degrees and academic certificates.

In keeping with a longstanding tradition, the ceremony was followed by a Garden Party held on campus in Bellevue for the university’s newest alumni, family and friends.

Pictures from the ceremony and garden party can be found on the Webster Geneva Facebook Page.

Traditions of Excellence

The ceremony led by Dr. Clementina Acedo, Director General of Webster University Geneva, recognized the 40th anniversary of Webster's presence in Switzerland. Family and friends of our new graduates were welcomed, including distinguished members of the diplomatic community and guests from as far as Doha and New York. Dr. Acedo's welcoming remarks were also delivered in French to the students from the Healthcare Management program which is celebrating it's 30th year.

The Commencement Keynote Address was delivered by Christian Milliet, Global Head of Clinical Operations at Vifor Pharma and President of the Geneva Chapter of the Webster Alumni Association. Twenty three years to the day after his own graduation from Webster Geneva, he reflected on his early career path and shared words of wisdom. He spoke about the values acquired through a Webster education that will help to ensure a successful career, and reminded the graduates that as they search for a new start on their own path, that "a dream job is more than just a title."

(Clockwise, from top-left) Elias Antoine Najjar, the graduate student speaker, expressed gratitude to his family and friends alongside some words of wisdom. Francesco Arese Visconti, Head of the Media Communications at Geneva, was given the William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Clementina Acedo, Director General of Webster University Geneva, opened commencement by recognizing Webster's 40th year in Switzerland. Ivory Coast born Mehdi Hyjazi, reflected on his experiences in a diverse community and how much it impacted him over the course of his studies

Graduating Student Speakers

The selected 2019 undergraduate speaker was Mehdi Hyjazi, a Lebanese and French citizen born in the Ivory Coast, who combined his own reflections with a deep sense of gratitude to his family and classmates. He highlighted the unique experience of immersing in such an internationally diverse learning community that Webster Geneva brings together--in a spirit more than just globalization, he said, but more like a global Webster family. He brought a delightful balance of humor and gravitas to mark the auspicious occasion, which for each classmate was a deeply personal journey. About the beauty of studying in Swtitzerland, he shared that it was a great place to study.  "Geneva is a place that offers peace of mind", he shared, "that allows you to focus on the essentials."

Elias Antoine Najjar, the chosen speaker for graduate students, is from France and Lebanon. He spoke about the commitment needed to pursue his MBA while working full-time and raising two children. Thanking his wife and extended family for their support, he expressed a sense of honor for the opportunity, and a heartfelt congratulations to his peers. He also shared some inspiring thoughts on which values he believed made his studies possible--including a dedication to learning, with his personal ritual of facing every day with optimism and hope. "Decide what you want, and believe you can achieve it", he shared. "Follow your fashion and do what you love", he added.

Honors and Awards

This year, Webster Geneva is proud to have awarded eight students this year with Scholars Program Certificates, to those who maintained a 3.5 GPA and who pursued additional courses and successfully completed a bachelor thesis. Eleven students were also awarded the WebsterLEADS Certificate, for pursuing a co-curricular leadership program which required an elective course and many hours of community service.

Excellence in Teaching Award

This year also marked a prestigious recognition from the global Webster faculty:  the William T. Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching, which recognizes faculty members who demonstrate teaching at its finest.  From among hundreds of faculty and scores of nominations from the worldwide network, Webster Geneva's own professor, Francesco Arese Visconti, Head of the Media Communications department, was announced as a recipient by the 2019 selection committee of the main Webster University campus in St. Louis, USA.

Congratulations and special recognition also went to the following award recipients at the ceremony:

Student Leadership Awards:

  • Graduate student:  Elias Antoine Najjar
  • Undergraduate:  Etsehiwot Negash Kebret

Community Service Awards:

  • Graduate student:  Leslie Lyons Burgat
  • Undergraduate students:  Maya Roncevic and Etsehiwot Negash Kebret

Campus Spirit Award:

  • Marc Walter César Dessibourg

Congratulations, graduates!

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