Saturday December 09, 2023

PM’s assistant asks graduates to face challenges with courage and perseverance

By Our Correspondent
December 01, 2019

Three hundred and fifty graduates celebrated the completion of their degree programs at the Aga Khan University’s convocation ceremony on Saturday where they were urged to remember the importance of courage, perseverance and agility in the years to come.

The chief guest at the event, Dr Sania Nishtar, special assistant to the prime minister on social protection and poverty alleviation, spoke to the graduating class about integrity, or staying true to one’s moral principles. “The crux of my experience leads me to believe that in order to make lasting and sustainable change you have to root your actions in integrity.”

“It has become a bit cliché but the time-old adage of doing the right thing for the right reasons is something that you must hold very dear to your heart as you walk into the real world,” she stated.

The real world is beset by many challenges: widening inequities, demographic challenges, rapid urbanisation and a context in which collusive behaviours are deeply entrenched. But such challenges also offer huge opportunity. For example, advancements in artificial intelligence and pharmacogenetics – the study of how genetics impact an individual’s response to medicine – are transforming medicine and today’s graduates have the opportunity to change the world dramatically. In his welcome address, AKU President Firoz Rasul called on graduates to make the most of their education by embracing challenges and to never let setbacks hold them back from achieving their goals.

“There is no such thing as a life without setbacks,” he said. “Remember that those who survive disappointment with their determination intact, and learn the hard lessons it has to teach, are forces to be reckoned with.”

He called on graduates to remember the value of courage in difficult times and to develop an agile mindset that would enable them to overcome all obstacles in their way.

“Agility is nothing other than responsiveness to changing conditions… stay agile, remain courageous, and continue to persevere – and you will achieve all that you’re capable of,” he added.

This year, students received degrees and diplomas in different disciplines including nursing, midwifery, medicine, education, dental hygiene and Muslim culture. This included 181 graduates from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, 143 from the Medical College, 16 from the Institute of Educational Development and 10 from the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations.

A number of students won awards at the convocation. The 2019 Medical College Best Graduating Student Award went to Dr Maya Zahid Khan, who also received the AKU Medical College’s Gold Medal for achieving the highest score in three out of four certifying examinations. She is only the tenth student in the University’s history to receive this medal. The 2019 School of Nursing and Midwifery Best Graduating Student Award went to Sahar Makhani.

Three Awards of Distinction were presented to Dr Amirali Pyarally Gulamhusein, Asif Fancy and Louis Ariano for their significant contributions to the University’s development. An Award of Excellence in Teaching and Teaching Leadership was conferred on Dr Rashida Ahmed and an Award of Excellence in Research was given to Dr Rumina Hasan.

Professor Emeritus and Professor Emerita were conferred on five retired members of faculty Professor Abul Faizi, Professor Mohammad Perwaiz Iqbal, Professor Murad Moosa Khan, Professor Nelofer Halai and Professor Yasmin Noorali Amarsi for their sustained contributions to teaching, scholarship and service throughout their careers.

Dr Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, founding chair of the University’s Center for Excellence in Women and Child Health, was elevated to the rank of distinguished university professor and is just the second faculty member to hold this title.