Graduation Ceremony Brings
Community Together in Riverside
By Sameer Patel
to right: Abdallah Jadallah, Kamil Azhar, Mohammed Desai
and Samy Harmoush
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
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.
group picture of the organizers
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.”
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.”