The School of Architecture and Design hosts its first alumni reunion
Alumni share their professional experiences and successes, and pay tribute to the university that supported them through their years of study.
It was a quote from renowned French artist Henri Matisse, ‘Creativity takes courage,’ that set the tone of the School of Architecture and Design’s (SArD) first alumni reunion this month at LAU’s Beirut campus.
“It does, indeed, take courage to create our experiences, to build our paths, to paint our lives with the colors of our happiness,” said Associate Director of Alumni Relations Ghada Majed. “Creativity is what is common to you all,” she added as she welcomed more than 120 alumni gathered at the event organized jointly by SArD and the Alumni Relations Office.
The evening was an occasion for graduates from a wide spectrum of specialties to revisit their days at their alma mater, and hear about each other’s achievements.
Praising them for being faithful ambassadors of their university, and exceptional agents of change in society with their diverse talent, LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra urged them to share their acquired knowledge with students. “You give us momentum to redouble our efforts and do more for our students. You are their role models,” he said, inviting them to come to the university and give lectures, take part in the alumni mentoring programs or simply share their experiences with the students.
Alumni who were invited to speak at the event, in fact, demonstrated that there is much to be shared and gained from the far from smooth road to success.
Accomplished interior designer Joe Farah (B.A. ‘92) admitted that there had been “ups and downs, and that the career path to success would not have been possible without hard work.” So far Farah has completed 550 projects, he said, in more than nine countries, and was able to establish himself in a domain he has always enjoyed thanks to his professors, who also taught him to “work, work, and then work some more, otherwise someone will steal your thunder.”
Virna Chakardemian (B.A. ‘00) recalled that it was her passion for art and creativity that had led her to study interior design. But, in order to join Yeprem, her family business, she specialized in jewelry design. Since, she has pushed the brand of her father’s company globally, acquiring an international clientele of celebrities like Beyoncé, Madonna, and Rihanna, among many others. Visibly moved, Chakardemian hugged her one-time professor Antoine Lahoud, who was introducing the speakers, after thanking him in her address “for always believing in me.”
For some time now, the school has been growing in leaps and bounds, having established more recently a B.A. in Fashion Design in collaboration with ELIE SAAB and the London College of Fashion.
Alumnus and current Adjunct Faculty Member of SArD, Elie Abs (B.A. ‘97) noted that the architecture program, too, had developed considerably since his graduation. After completing his master’s in England, Abs returned to Lebanon to establish his own practice and for the past two years has been advising final year students at LAU.
Recognizing LAU as an outstanding institution that provided him with “a great foundation in design and design thinking,” graphic designer, Ghaith Fleifel (B.A. ‘10) described how he went on to found a branding company specialized in designing and developing video games, which will be releasing a new video game next month. Fleifel thanked all his professors for pushing him and his peers to follow their dreams.
Dean of SArD Elie Haddad was delighted by the large attendance of alumni, some of whom had come “all the way from the Bekaa and the North.” Expressing his gratitude to the alumni office, Lahoud and Rached Bohsali, chairman of the Fine Arts Department, Haddad quipped that he also owed his thanks to Mark Zuckerberg who made it possible to follow past students on Facebook and learn of their achievements.
The alumni needed no reminding that LAU was “their home” and its community “their family,” as they celebrated being reunited after many years, and took selfies with professors they are not likely to forget.