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What pandemic? Despite travel curbs, 20 students celebrate Global Business Journalism graduation


Farah Mubarak

It was a historic first. For the last time.


Twenty students became Global Business Journalism master's degree graduates on June 24 – including seven international participants who completed the program remotely without ever setting foot on the Tsinghua University campus.


"This Global Business Journalism graduating class of 2022 has turned adversity into opportunity," co-director Rick Dunham said in a speech to the GBJ celebration via Zoom. "Despite the obstacles, you have turned out to be a remarkable, resilient and academically exceptional group."


The graduating class compromised 11 countries on five continents. Ten of the GBJ graduates were from China while 10 represented a diverse group of nations around the world.


"I'm incredibly grateful for the two years I've spent in the Global Business Journalism program," said David Bartle, an American from the state of Oklahoma. "The program was challenging and pushed me to develop as a student, journalist and person."


Valedictorian Farah Mubarak of Jordan won the award for best thesis for a study of the portrayal of Middle Eastern Muslim women by Hollywood. The prize for top journalism portfolio was won by Jamille Tran of Vietnam for her deeply researched reporting on the global supply chain for Chinese electric vehicles. Also receiving academic honors was Charity Matizanando of Zimbabwe.


"I am proud of our growth and the resilience we demonstrated over these two years," said Mubarak.


French student Katherin Thouvenin won the special prize for service to GBJ and Tsinghua University for her series of vlogs on campus life produced over the past two years. She will continue her studies on campus as she pursues a Ph.D. in communication at Tsinghua.


"The two years spent within the GBJ program brought me the most valuable lessons and cherished memories," said Thouvenin.


Although most of the international students were unable to obtain visas to study in China, their academic performance was extraordinary. Indeed, their accomplishments made GBJ history.


"You are the first class of international GBJ graduates that passed the thesis defense process on the first try, without a single student required to submit major revisions or face deferred approval.," Professor Dunham said on commencement day. "For that, I say “bravo”!


And while many of the graduates expressed their regret that they had not spent time on campus, they are likely to be the last group of Global Business Journalism graduates to complete their work remotely. Because of changes in Chinese visa regulations, most of the 2023 graduating class and the incoming first-year class are able to return to Tsinghua this fall. And the 2022 graduates shared happy memories of their time in GBJ.


"I made great friendships with classmates from around the world, despite the absence of physical classes," said Xiaolu (Sunny) Pan of Australia. "Thanks to them, I survived through all the internal panic brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. And I will always remember every one of them who once shined on me."


Watch Katherin Thouvenin's vlog of graduation day 2022. She won the GBJ public service award for her series of videos about life at Tsinghua.

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