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This year’s graduation speaker is unique in that he is a parent to a current senior. Pinewood parent Ahmed Rubaie is personally connected to the class of 2017. His speech will address the grade on a more personal level and inspire the graduating seniors as they journey to college.
Ahmed is a person of perseverance and determination, according to his daughter and current senior Alia Rubaie. Ahmed and his family moved from Iraq to Michigan when he was only nine and had to learn an entirely new language and culture. He began working before he was a teenager and has not stopped since. After attending Albion College and continuing on to earn a Juris Doctorate degree at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Ahmed’s career took off. He has been a part of growing and building numerous successful companies as CFO of Sitecore, COO and CFO of Fortinet, and CFO of Ariba.
“I think my father represents the perfect example of a man who came from nothing and made something out of it. I think hearing him speak will inspire our class and others to know that with an education as incredible as Pinewood we can create a successful future,” Alia said.
While Ahmed will touch on his experiences in the business world, he hopes to focus his speech on being happy and taking life one step at a time without getting wrapped up in stress, especially in an environment like Silicon Valley.
“I hope to address what it means to be a human in life and more about simplifying the journey of life. Not to take life so seriously and focus on the things that matter. Follow your passions and academics and careers or whatever you’re going to do,” Ahmed said. “But don’t forget the basic things in life. How to be happy, how to respect your parents, elders, friends, how to give back to the community.”
Ahmed thanks the tight-knit Pinewood community for giving his daughters the opportunities they would not have found at a larger school. After feeling so fortunate for everything Pinewood did for his two daughters, he hopes to give something back through his speech.
“For me, it’s a humbling privilege to be standing in front of you guys. I met you guys when you were in ninth grade and now everyone’s grown up. Whether it’s seeing you all at softball games or volleyball games or at school or at our house. For me it is just an honor, a privilege, to have a little bit of banter at graduation,” Ahmed said.