KARACHI: The Aga Khan University’s (AKU) sports complex was a swirl of green and white on Saturday as the Class of 2014 prepared to take its final walk as students.
The ceremony began with a procession, led by Dr Mir Afzal Tajik, the director of AKU’s Institute for Educational Development, carrying the university blazon. The graduating students and the faculty followed to the tune of the varsity’s traditional processional music, composed by Kabir Roy.
A total of 382 degrees were conferred on the students, who were dressed in the traditional green and white convocation robes, commonly referred to as jamiaposh. They were graduating from the university’s Medical College, its School of Nursing and Midwifery and the Institute for Educational Development.
“Our institution prides itself not only on its high standards of education, but also on never compromising on its adherence to a moral and ethical code,” said Ali Hasan, the class valedictorian.
His sentiments were echoed by Dr Aliza Hussain and Kiran Salim Reimoo, the recipients of the best graduate awards from the Medical College and the School of Nursing and Midwifery respectively. “We are proud to join the league of medical practitioners who hold the highest principles in the profession today,” said Dr Hussain.
Thunderous applause greeted the chief guest, award-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, as she made her way to the rostrum. In a motivating speech, she reminded the graduates to make choices while pursuing their passion. “Today, we celebrate your accomplishments, but tomorrow, your real life begins in every sense,” she said. “You have the chance to author your own destiny, depending on the choices that you make. Will you follow your passion? Will you choose to be different? Will you, in the face of adversity, make the right decisions? And will you dare to take chances, dare to speak out and dare to be heard?”
Most of our grandparents, she added, chose to leave their careers, their homes and the life they knew for a new country, whose ideals they believed in and which they knew they had to fight for. “I know the thought of leaving Pakistan has crossed some of your minds,” she said. “While you must travel and learn about the world if you get the opportunity, remember that this country needs you – so do come back.”
Earlier, AKU president Firoz Rasul reminded the graduates about how each of them now had a foot in the developing world, where millions suffer from poverty and its related ills, and another in the global knowledge community. “You may feel that these are very different places, even incompatible with each other, and that you must live in one or the other,” he said. “In this borderless age, however, the greatest opportunity you have is to connect these two worlds.”
The graduating class
This year, AKU’s Medical College graduated 102 doctors while granting 37 masters degrees, three doctorates in health sciences and 19 advanced diplomas.
Meanwhile, the School of Nursing and Midwifery presented its first cohort of Post-RM bachelors of science in midwifery. These 21 graduates, five from each of Pakistan’s provinces and one from Afghanistan, are the first to receive a university degree in midwifery, based on global standards set by the International Confederation of Midwives.
They were flanked by 166 other graduates: 153 receiving bachelors degrees in nursing and 13 receiving masters degrees. Additionally, the Institute for Educational Development granted a doctorate in education to three students and masters degrees to 31 students.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2014.