On Friday, June 21, 2013, over 200 graduates participated in AIU South Florida’s graduation ceremony, held at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hosted in the Floridian Room of the convention center, the ceremony's atmosphere was set for a momentous event that would garner all the pomp and circumstance AIU graduates deserve. Family and friends filled every seat in the audience, all eager to see their loved ones walk across the stage. Not only would the become graduates, but it symbolized the close of one chapter, and the beginning of another in the story book of their lives.
A beautiful rendition of our nation’s national anthem was performed by AIU South Florida Alumna, Amber Binford. Dressed in full military regalia, color guard from North Miami Senior High proudly presented our nation’s colors while Amber’s voice washed over the room with patriotic fervor. Dr. Fabian Cone, Director of Education for the South Florida campus, delivered the opening procession, and presented South Florida and Atlanta Campus President, Dr. Hisham Shaban. True to his enthusiastic nature, he was able evoke excitement in the audience and the graduates. Dr. Michael Mounts, Program Dean for Criminal Justice, also gave a moving speech that recognized the veterans in the room; not only veterans who were AIU students, but veterans in the audience as well.
It was with great pleasure that Dr. Shaban presented the Keynote Speaker, another AIU Alumnus, Dennard Mitchell, who is a motivational speaker, author, and co-founder of two successful companies. Dennard delivered an electrifying and enthralling speech which the audience rewarded with roars of applause and a standing ovation. Next, it was our pleasure to welcome another AIU Alumna, Suzanne Thomas. Suzanne works with the Cleveland Clinic Hospital network, and was just recently promoted to a directorial position at their new location in West Palm Beach, Florida. She delivered an inspirational address that set the stage for this year’s Graduate Speaker, Marie Christelle Bernardine. Throughout her speech, she acknowledged the nuisances and frustrations of what it means to be a college student. However, she also made sure to give special thanks to some special instructors, and give proper congratulations where it was due: to the graduating class of 2012-2013.
At last, after great anticipation, the presentation of degrees was announced. However, before students walked the stage to become graduates, a moment was taken to recognize Anthony Brown, an AIU Student who passed away earlier in June. His sister was brought on stage to accept a posthumous Bachelor of Business Degree awarded to Anthony, and after a brief moment of silence, applause broke out and signaled the start of what each student was waiting for: Walking across the stage. Each program chair proudly called off graduates’ names; family members and friends broke out in uproarious congratulatory cheer for their now graduated son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother or friend. When all the graduates’ names had been called, there was a special treat in store; a short video filmed by AIU South Florida Media Production students and starring AIU South Florida staff and faculty took the graduates by surprise. Numerous congratulations and well wishes were directed to graduates, as well as their very own “Harlem Shake” video.
After some good laughs, Dr. Shaban took the stage and prepared to confer the degrees awarded. At the end of his countdown, every student, in unison, moved their tassel from the right side of their cap, to the left side; signifying that they are now graduates of American Intercontinental University. The graduates began to cheer and congratulate one another, and each relished in the accomplishment now afforded to each and every one of them.