For the second time in Northern Arizona University’s history, the president attended the annual graduation ceremony at Dalian Jiaotong University in China to congratulate firsthand the 35 graduates who participated in NAU’s 1+2+1 program.

A partnership between more than 80 Chinese universities and 20 U.S. universities, the 1+2+1 program allows Chinese students to spend two or three years studying abroad, earning an undergaduate degree from both universities. In 2004, NAU was one of the earliest U.S. institutions to join the program, graduating 300 in the past decade with many others still working on their degree.

“Northern Arizona University is extremely grateful to be a key partner in this extraordinary initiative,” President Rita Cheng told a crowd of hundreds at the May 28 graduation. “The transformative 1+2+1 dual-degree program has provided participating Chinese students with unique experiences, preparing them to join global society and enter the workforce with a deeper understanding of the social and political dynamics necessary for success in the 21st century.”

Cheng poses with NAU alumni

Cheng poses with NAU alumni

Cheng represented the 16 U.S. universities at the ceremony as the opening speaker, and she also spoke at the alumni reception. There, she thanked fellow Lumberjacks for being a part of the innovative program and for choosing NAU.

“Students, we are so proud of you for having successfully completed your education in two systems—in two universities—in two countries—on two continents,” she said. “You now possess a critical level of academic, cultural and linguistic competence, which will prepare you to succeed in the global arena.”

The 188 graduates from this year’s ceremony will join the more than 2,000 alumni of the 1+2+1 program.