Event of the month: Graduation 2019
Earlier this month, on June 7, 2019, around 400 students from 72 nations graduated from Jacobs University Bremen. This was the 15th class to graduate – 15 generations of inspiring individuals that have left an indelible mark in our university. This year’s Commencement Ceremony was brightened with a reflective speech on freedom and the importance of generosity from our President Prof. Dr. Hülsmann, and some encouraging words from Dr. Insa Thiele-Eich, a Meteorologist and Astronaut-in-training who will be the first German woman to go to space. In their respective Undergraduate and Graduate Student Addresses, Milos Delikladic (Serbia), Muhammad Azka (Indonesia) and Maite Koop (Germany) said farewell to their fellow students and dear friends with speeches that were sprinkled with touching memories about their life at Jacobs University. You can watch all the speeches here.
The days leading up to Graduation Day saw the campus teeming with activity and an air of excitement not only from students preparing to graduate and fly out of the Jacobs pond, but also from family members arriving in Bremen to watch their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews receive their diplomas. It is always a surreal sight – all of these relatives coming from all corners of the world, beaming with pride and joy, maybe remembering the day when they first dropped their children off for their first day of school, nearly 20 years ago. The feeling is contagious. It is a reminder that no matter how old we grow and how far we go, we always maintain the connection with our people and the love only grows, and the same goes for our Jacobs family.
How does a typical Jacobs Graduation go? Here is a peek of what was happening behind the scenes:
June 3 – four days until graduation.
At 5:30pm, Marcus Makinson’s mother, grandmother and sister drive from Roanoke, Virginia to Washington DC, to board a flight to Europe. After a short layover in Brussels they land at the Hamburg airport in the morning of June 4. Marcus is waiting there to take them to Bremen. He can hear them coming from far, far away. They scream his name when they see him, overjoyed – hugs all around. They drive to Bremen together, to the apartment where Marcus will be living over the summer after graduation while he applies for different jobs in Germany. They drink a coffee in the backyard, while they play with the friendly cat that Marcus is looking after until his owner comes back.
In the days leading up to graduation, Marcus takes his family around his new neighborhood, Neustadt. He takes them to the Werdersee to have ice cream by the water and to eat burritos for lunch at Rosali. They visit the popular sights of the Bremen city center and Schnoor, and walk through the Schlachte by the Weser river. Summer is kicking in and the weather is wonderful.
June 7 – graduation day. Mom, grandma and sister come to campus early and Marcus shows them his room on campus in the C3 residential college, now almost completely empty as he has been packing and getting ready to leave. They meet his roommate Nikesh, from Hamburg.
The Commencement Ceremony begins, and they are overwhelmed with emotion – and of course they cry. At the reception, the festivities continue. They take pictures with Marcus and his friends, and enjoy the sun and the joyful atmosphere until grandma becomes too tired from the emotional rollercoaster.
June 4 – the afternoon before graduation.
Tensae Desta’s uncle takes the train from Munich, where he lives and works. He arrives in Bremen around 7pm. Tensae picks him up at the train station and after dropping off his luggage at the hotel, they take a walk around Vegesack, the neighborhood where the university is located. They eat dinner at the Mexican restaurant, El Presidente, and during dinner she tells him about her favorite Shawarma spot in the neighborhood, Palma Imbiss, and how it smells just like the food back home. Her grandma is Saudi and Eritrean, and Tensae says it smells like the food she cooks. But he doesn’t believe her, so after dinner she takes him there so he can see for himself. He loves it – hectic, people shouting orders, running around…
Content and well-fed, they take the 5-minute bus ride to campus. Tensae shows him the library where she has spent hours studying, the administration building where she had a student job for the last two years, the classrooms, the gym, and the Sports and Conventions Center where they are setting up for the big Graduation event. He gets very emotional as he sees the place where tomorrow his niece will be standing and receiving her diploma. Tensae takes him to her room in the Mercator residential college. He is pleasantly surprised with the place and likes Tensae’s wall decorations, especially her wooden reproduction of Banksy’s “Rage, Flower Thrower”. They meet Tensae’s friend Mihella, and he immediately connects with Mihella’s aunt and uncle who are also from Ethiopia. They bond, exchange phone numbers, and hang out together for the rest of their time in Bremen.
June 7 – graduation day. Tensae’s uncle arrives on time for the ceremony. Overenthusiastic, he calls Tensae ten times to make sure she is ready and to ask her to take all the pictures possible. As the Commencement Ceremony begins and the graduating class walks into the venue, he stands by the door with a camera, screaming her name. She sees him and waves. At the reception, they take pictures together and with Mihella’s family. He gives Tensae a card to congratulate her.
June 4 – the night before graduation.
At 5pm, after work, Nadia Weannara’s mother and sister drive from The Hague to Bremen. Her father wanted to come too, but he is a doctor working in Sudan at the moment and all the flights got cancelled due to the current situation. Her sister and mother arrive at 10pm. Nadia is happy they drove all this way, and she meets them for drinks at the city center. They skip the city tour and campus tour, because Nadia’s mom lives close enough and has been to Bremen to see her many times before. They go back to rest at the hotel after, and Nadia goes back to campus to help her friends pack and clean their rooms before the summer.
June 7 – graduation day. Nadia’s mom and sister arrive on campus and go to the venue early to get good seats for the ceremony. Nadia’s boyfriend, also a Jacobs student, can’t come to the ceremony because he just started his internship at KMPG, so Nadia has two extra tickets. She gives one to her Nicaraguan/American/Costa Rican friend Richie, and another to her Turkish friend Mert. They both need tickets for their friends and families who also made the long trip to Bremen.
Nadia’s mom and sister thought they wouldn’t get emotional, but they start crying as the graduating class walks in and the Commencement Ceremony begins. Nadia’s mom never cries, but she is so happy and so proud. At the reception Nadia and her family take a lot of pictures, meet friends and professors. Her mom talks to Nadia’s Political Science Professor, Marco Verweij, who is also from the Netherlands. They talk about Rotterdam, and about Nadia’s accomplishments. Later they go get Korean food in Neustadt, where Nadia’s boyfriend joins them after work, with a bouquet of flowers for Nadia.
Read more about this year’s Graduation Day and our honored guests here.