In the Vienna Master community, October is not only the beginning of a new academic year, but it is a month brimming with emotions. Firstly, there is the joy of welcoming Generation 12, the students who are taking their first steps on the journey to becoming human rights practitioners. Secondly, there is a sense of gratitude as we reunite with our Generation 11 students and hear about the brilliant ideas they have been working on during the summer break. Lastly, we feel immense pride in our freshly graduated change makers. They have not only earned their academic titles but have also demonstrated the significance of interdisciplinary thinking through their various academic pursuits. All of these remarkable individuals had the opportunity to reconnect and celebrate their achievements during our 10th Graduation Ceremony.
Since the inception of the program at the University of Vienna in 2012, we have had the marvelous privilege of accompanying 232 students with a wide range of backgrounds, skills, and knowledge on their career journeys. They are the ones who consistently inspire us to enhance our work, go beyond educational standards and embrace new challenges, ensuring the continuation of this exceptional program. Now they are working in a variety of fields and intersections as consultants for human rights projects, experts in diverse national ministries, producers in cinematography and music, leaders in their own NGOs, and much more.
In order to celebrate this anniversary, we extended invitations to two distinguished speakers: Eva-Maria Stadler, the Former Vice-Rector for Knowledge Transfer at the University of Applied Arts, and Ghada Fathi Waly, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, as well as Executive Director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes. They graciously shared their insightful thoughts with our audience at the Graduation Ceremony.
Their remarks highlighted the imperative of fostering interdisciplinary studies, particularly within the realm of safeguarding human rights. It was a testament to the evolving landscape of education and research, one that encourages us to push the boundaries of traditional disciplines in the pursuit of social justice and human dignity.
After that, the eagerly awaited moment arrived – the distribution of diplomas. It must be acknowledged that this year’s thesis not only left us astounded but also ignited a profound wellspring of inspiration. The depth and breadth of research, the innovative approaches, and the dedication of our students in their pursuit of knowledge and understanding were truly remarkable. Witnessing the creativity of our students fills us with gratification and serves as unequivocal evidence that our efforts are paying off.
We draw inspiration from the wholehearted and compelling words of Mary Joyce Marquez Cristiano, this graduation year’s valedictorian and student representative, who has illuminated the significance of empathy. In times marked by a multitude of crises, human rights must remain our foremost guiding principle. It is now, more than ever, evident that this is not merely a matter of legislation; all of those unalienable rights demand thoughtful application across various domains, including the realms of arts and culture.
All of our recent graduates have demonstrated that they possess not only the requisite knowledge but also the tools to implement innovative approaches in international, regional, and national human rights practices. What brought them to our program, led them to persevere despite numerous challenges, empowered them to initiate inspiring projects, and ultimately shaped them into genuine change-makers is their unwavering commitment to keep caring.
Once more, we wish to express our earnest appreciation and congratulations to all of our graduates. From the depths of our hearts, we are confident that it was not farewell but rather a warm embrace of the introduction to the news chapters of their remarkable careers.