Graduation Ceremony Brings Community Together in Riverside
By Sameer Patel


Left to right: Abdallah Jadallah, Kamil Azhar, Mohammed Desai and Samy Harmoush

Riverside, CA: On Sunday, June 25, the Islamic Center of Riverside organized its Fourth Annual Graduation Ceremony at the Riverside Convention Center in Downtown Riverside, California. The yearly program’s objective is to recognize and congratulate all Muslim graduates from high school, college, and university who reside within the Inland Empire. This year, 100 graduates - 65 from high school and 35 from college and university - were duly applauded. Under a new scheme of according recognition, four graduates, who had memorized the entire Holy Qur’an, were given $1000 scholarships through funds donated by a local Riverside Muslim brother.
The program was originally started by Dr. Makbul Patel (Chairman of the Graduation Committee). After the first year, other organizations began to donate money towards scholarships. Talat Radwan, a community leader, donated $10,000 to grant scholarships to graduates who excel in academic pursuits, SAT score, volunteer work, etc.

A group picture of the organizers

Mohmed Ashraf, Chairman of the Islamic Center of Riverside, was the first to welcome the graduates and to congratulate them. Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge was also present at the event to applaud the achievement of the youth. Dr. Ahmed Salama, a project manager of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was also among the guests. The speakers emphasized that education is a never-ending process, and a person should never stop his educational pursuits. “This is a time to congratulate our students, but it is also an opportunity to instill in them the desire to pursue higher education,” Dr. Ahmed Salama said.
High school graduate Malek Bendelhoum was excited about the function. “It was terrific that graduates are being recognized by the society outside of school.” Although the program is organized for applauding the efforts of the graduates, Patel commented that it is serves as a great opportunity to get the entire Muslim community together. “Muslims in Southern California are spread out, and gatherings like these are a great way for everyone to get together.”

Dr. Aijaz Hashmi, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, prepared data about a majority of the high school students. He showed that ninety percent of the students graduated with a GPA of 3.0 or higher while one student claimed the valedictorian position of her school with a 4.86 GPA.
Shakeel Syed, another speaker, asked the graduates to enter more fields. 35% of high school graduates are planning to go into the medical field, and 15% are planning to go into the engineering field.
Dr. Mustafa Kuko, Director at the Islamic Center of Riverside, concluded the program with his remarks and congrats. “The program was an immense success,” Patel said afterwards. “It was an enjoyable evening in which all Muslim communities got a chance to get together, and congratulate their youth. We are proud of them.”



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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