My Journey at Illinois Institute of Technology



Today, May 17th, 2014, we are celebrating Illinois Institute of Technology’s 145th commencement ceremony. We are celebrating IIT’s commitment to educating bright, hard-working students who are committed to innovation, regardless of their location, race, gender, religion, or political opinion. And although this is usually the norm here, it is not the case all over the world, and unfortunately, not in my county, Syria. I am fortunate to be here. At some point, I thought there was no hope, until I learned about Jusoor-IIT’s outreach initiative to Syria. On that day, I learned this: Never lose hope, just do your best, and be patient.


And yet, as I arrived here, I proudly learned that it’s in IIT’s DNA to always reach out across every neighborhood of Chicago, every county in the Land of Lincoln, and to every country to ensure that students with heart and determination arrive at this campus each year.


Therefore, as we are celebrating today, I am writing here to thank everyone who contributed towards IIT’s mission, President John Anderson, the Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff, our wonderful alumni community, and all the donors who persistently support IIT to make education possible for everyone whether from the south side of Chicago, my hometown Syria, or anywhere in between. On the other hand, words are too short to express my gratitude toward Jusoor organization, which is the reason I am here today, and without their funding and ultimate support, I would’ve never been able to achieve this milestone day in my life.


My fellow graduates and myself spent the last couple of years working toward this monumental day, and here it is, we made it! It was not hard at all! We only took around 40 finals, 60 midterms, wrote around 100 papers, and let’s not talk about the thousands of unsolvable homework problems. That adds up to around 200 nights of continuous study – NO BIG DEAL. I even started seeing electromagnetic waves in my dreams, or I better say: Nightmares! Yeah, we have been through all of that, yet, we had the most amazing memories in our lives, memories that will never tarnish.


We won’t forget the friends we had from all over the world, and their strange, but delicious food, that we tried in the taste of IIT events. We won’t forget those weird, obnoxious, and sometimes romantic, stories that we learned about from the IIT confessions page. We will definitely remember the tremendous number of events we had on campus that made our school not only a place for education, but also for having fun and preparing us to be successful leaders. However, as we have received that distinctive education and fun experience, we should not forget about others, who have not! If every one of us chooses to help just one more person, anywhere in world, our future will sure be better.


Now that the first Syrian cohort at IIT is joining the alumni community, I was thinking about the best way to give back to Jusoor and IIT and make them proud of us… Yes donations are crucial, but also working hard to be among the future leaders, the agents of change in the world, whether in research, industry, or community, will be a priceless gift.


Last but not least, to my family in Syria, I say: You mean the world to me; I love you more than words can say, and I hope this little gift today will make you happy… To my friends, I am better because of you, and I really can’t describe how hard it is to say goodbye to many of you today.


As we move forward, we can be proud of what we accomplished at Illinois Tech: we made it through Chicago’s coldest winter, so here’s looking forward to the spring of our lives.


IIT’s Commencement opening ceremony will be broadcast via live stream beginning at following times:

9:30 am – Chicago
10:30 am – Toronto, New York City
3:30 pm – London
5:30 pm – Syria


Abdulrhman Arnaout

BSc in Electrical Engineering

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, IL 60616

(312) 451-3479

3 Comments Add yours

  1. gpdoyle says:

    Congratulations to the five graduates who will earn their degrees at the 145th Illinois Institute of Technology’s commencement ceremonies today – May 17, 2014; these graduates include four students earning their undergraduate degrees, and one student who will have earned a master’s degree.

    Here’s a link to the biography of this year’s Commencement Speaker:

  2. gpdoyle says:

    From the Institute of International Education:

    NEW YORK, May 16, 2014—As the Syrian crisis enters its fourth year, the Institute of International Education and its partners around the world announce news and results related to the work of the IIE Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis. The Consortium provides emergency support to Syrian university students and professors, as they will be so urgently needed to help rebuild Syria.

    The crisis in Syria continues to have a devastating impact on professors, university students, and the education sector. University campuses have been bombed, most university students are unable to continue their studies, and many professors have been killed, kidnapped, or forced to flee. The “No Lost Generation” campaign highlights the horrific impact of the Syrian conflict on more than 5 million Syrian children, 3 million of whom are now out of school. This group, led by UNICEF, UNHCR, and other organizations, has issued an urgent call for improved access to education for all Syrian children, both inside Syria and in neighboring countries.

    While the world struggles to meet the basic needs of millions of Syrian refugees, IIE and its partners are making sure that higher education is not neglected. Launched in 2012 at the Clinton Global Initiative, the IIE Syria Consortium has expanded in 2014, with original partners IIE, Jusoor, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and the U.S. Department of State joined by the Global Platform for Syrian Students, Kaplan Test Prep International, and the University of California, Davis. Thanks to new partners and funding, the Consortium has mobilized and coordinated over $6 million in assistance and educational opportunities this year for Syrian students and scholars whose lives and academic work have been threatened due to the conflict.

    ….read more at:

  3. Quite an inspirational piece.

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