KARACHI: The Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Szabist) feted its seventh batch of students as they entered a “new phase of their life” on Saturday.
“You are among the few fortunate people of Pakistan who have the power to decide their future,” said Szabist Vice-Chancellor Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, as she addressed the 510 graduates at the convocation.
Institutes are not built overnight but in decades and Szabist will not be intimidated by challenges, she said. She was referring to the recent drop in the institute’s ranking among the top universities of the country.
“The only reason why Szabist’s ranking fell to No. 4 was because it lacks physical infrastructure,” she explained. The new research departments will definitely add to the quality of our education, she promised. The ceremony was attended by Senator Mian Raza Rabbani as chief guest and the chairman of the Charter Inspection and Evaluation Committee, Dr S M Qureshi, who was the keynote speaker.
Students from both the Karachi and Larkana campuses gathered at the PAF Museum for the ceremony in their best clothes, even though their blue and silver robes covered them from head to toe. Grinning from ear to ear, the students made their way to the stage to receive rolled-up degrees, which were actually a piece of paper that read ‘Congratulations. You may collect your degree from the records office’.
The university conferred degrees in management sciences, computing, social sciences, economics and media sciences, to both graduate and undergraduate students. Ten students were awarded academic gold medals while 58 ‘Corporate Gold Medals’ were given by various organisations to meritorious students.
Student Jaya Loungani recalled how much she had changed since she joined Szabist. “I used to be an introvert but now I am a known speaker,” she said. She admitted that she could not leave the university after graduation and has been working as a research officer. “Here I learnt that I am an academic and not a professional.”
Abdul Aziz Kazi, with a degree in media sciences, believed that success after college depends on “what you make of it”. Kazi has launched his own band, Spoonful, and has been able to work on several films. What makes him the happiest is that he has “a degree in what he identifies with”.
Kazi’s class fellow Mariam, who is working as a freelance graphic designer, said that there is a tendency to take girls less seriously in her field. “We also face competition from Indus Valley students but Szabist students work better as copy writers in newspapers and news channels,” she said. Mariam added that nearly 70 per cent of her class is already employed. Now that the market is overloaded with business and computer science graduates, it is the time for social sciences in Pakistan, said Dr Fouzia Naeem Khan, who is the dean of the social and media sciences faculty. “Our students do face competition from Lums when it comes to social sciences but Szabist is the only institute offering a degree in media sciences,” she boasted.
Among the crowd of over 1,800 people was Mrs Rashid, who cried happily when her daughter, Jaweria, received a gold medal. “I believe I have achieved the most difficult milestone of the world,” she said. Jaweria agreed and added that she not only had been educated but actually “discovered” herself at Szabist.
Renewable Energy Research Centre head Dr Amin Ahmed, who is also the acting dean for the computing department, said that the university is constantly introducing new courses, such as Mechatronics (a mix of electronics, computers and mechanics) and Masters in Information Security.
A management lecturer, Kumail Raza Hemani, boasted that the students of Szabist are more “smart working” than “hard working” in comparison with the cream of students from IBA and Lums. “We do not imitate IBA and LUMS, we see ourselves as Stanford in the future,” added Wajeeha Javaid, the academics head.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2011.