Thirty-six students from Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) will become the first ever class to graduate from the university this evening (May 9) since the branch campus began teaching in 2008.
The group will receive either Bachelor of Science degrees in journalism or communication – the two programmes currently offered by the university, the first international branch of the American institute.
“Northwestern University in Qatar’s first graduation is a milestone event for Qatar,” said H.E. Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al-Thani, director of His Highness the Emir’s Office and a member of NU-Q’s Joint Advisory Board. “A thriving media industry is crucial to a knowledge-based economy of the future, and this field of graduates is poised to make a powerful mark. I look to these fresh graduates to work diligently to translate their education into meaningful contributions to our nation’s development, driving our media industries to new horizons of progress and freedom.”
Rami Khouri, a columnist for Lebanon’s Daily Star and director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, will be the event’s speaker.
Many of the graduates already have the start of their career planned, such as Jassim Al Rumaihi, a Qatari who will work at Al Jazeera Arabic’s coverage planning department. “Now that I really understand how media can be a powerful tool for change and improvement in society, I cannot wait to be part of the Arab world’s most influential media organisation," he said.
The Doha Centre for Media Freedom caught up with two others, Rana Khaled who has studied journalism and Florent D'Souza who studied communication. Here they give us their thoughts on media freedom in the region, and what graduating means to them:
Now that I have graduated, I am planning to work on the production company that three other graduates and I are starting.
Studying journalism in Qatar was interesting because it was a very challenging experience. I always loved taking risks and doing the undoable, which was probably the right word to call reporting in Qatar when I first started. It wasn't the easiest experience, but is now a passion of mine that I will never give up.
Press freedom to me means being able to speak up about any issues or stories that are happening and factual. Press freedom shouldn't just be a law but a living style, where people, not just journalists, could actually speak up and express how they feel.
The Arab region’s media is really improving and growing. Especially in Qatar, I see media outlets really growing.
Increased press freedom will come when people actually allow it into their homes and allow others to speak up their minds.
The thing I look forward most in a media career is giving a voice to the voiceless and being able to cover stories that will really make a difference in people's lives.
(Above: Rana Khaled at work)
Now that I have graduated I am planning to work at The Doha Debates as a digital producer and handle their online, web and social media.
Studying journalism in Qatar was interesting because I studied communications (media, industries and technology), not journalism. It was interesting, challenging and fulfilling. There are plenty of stories to tell, and tonnes of amazing things happening to document. There are even a plethora of media and technologies we are yet to adopt in Qatar. And hence, it is an ever changing, ever growing and ever so challenging industry to be a part of.
Press freedom to me means to freely express all sides of the story, be it a negative or a positive view. The freedom to access, create and disseminate information that will aid in the development of the society in any way and form, is press freedom.
The Arab region’s media is underdeveloped and inadequate.
Increased press freedom will come when we push the boundaries of censorship and fear and speak bravely and fearlessly in support of truth. When we devise a truly free and transparent media system and media law.
The thing I look forward most in a media career is the excitement and unpredictability of the world around me. I am looking forward to telling the stories of other, and that excites me.
The Doha Centre for Media Freedom congratulates all of the students graduating today, and wishes them all the very best for their future careers.