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American University Kyiv holds first graduation ceremony

The university, built in collaboration with ASU, marks the achievement amid the 2-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine


People wearing black graduation robes and red stoles throw their caps into the air in celebration.

Students celebrate following the first-ever graduation and ceremony held at American University Kyiv in Ukraine. Photos courtesy AUK

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March 08, 2024

Built in collaboration between Arizona State University, the City of Kyiv and Cintana Education, American University Kyiv opened its doors in February 2022, just three weeks before the full-scale invasion of Russia in Ukraine. 

On Feb. 23, American University Kyiv (AUK) marked a significant milestone with its first-ever graduation ceremony, conferring degrees in business and software engineering, based on curriculum from ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The event, held amid the two-year anniversary of Russia's full-scale war in Ukraine, underscored the resilience and commitment of the university and its community.

Since breaking ground in 2021, AUK has become a testament to international cooperation, playing an important role in providing educational access and fostering academic growth in a country grappling with the challenges of war.

Further, the successful graduation of AUK's first cohort aligns with ASU's broader mission of fostering inclusive and accessible education worldwide.

Nancy Gonzales, executive vice president and university provost of Arizona State University, who attended the groundbreaking in 2021, expressed pride for AUK and its graduates during her keynote speech.

"When we started AUK, ASU knew how important it would be to provide students the access to a university during this historic moment of hardship. Learning is an act of hope and a belief in the future. While other forces try to move us backwards, education empowers us to move forward.

"The collaboration between American University Kyiv and Arizona State University within the ASU-Cintana Alliance highlights a shared commitment to academic excellence, innovation and the success of students across the globe. Our partnership shows that regardless of location and circumstance, students in all parts of the world deserve access to a high-quality university education.”

During the AUK Master’s Graduation Ceremony, the graduates were also addressed by important guests, including Kurt Volker, AUK founding partner, former executive director of the McCain Institute and former U.S. ambassador to NATO; Dan Rice, president of American University Kyiv; and Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv.

“I am honored to be a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point,” Rice said. “I was thinking about this graduation today at AUK, and I realized that I went to university in peacetime, preparing to lead in wartime. I never imagined in my wildest imagination, that I would be leading a university in wartime, preparing students to lead Ukraine in peacetime. And I am confident that you will be the leaders who lead Ukraine into the future and win the peace. And winning the peace is as important as to win the war.”

This May, AUK will celebrate another milestone, becoming the first ASU Cintana Alliance partner institution to graduate students with a dual degree from Arizona State University and their home institution.

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