Aga Khan University graduates 777 students, celebrates founder’s day and 40th anniversary

The Aga Khan University on Saturday celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2022, its first-ever Founder’s Day and the University’s 40th anniversary. Simultaneous ceremonies were held in Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and broadcast online to an international audience of AKU’s friends and supporters. Princess Zahra Aga Khan attended the ceremony in Karachi and shared a message from His Highness the Aga Khan, Founder and Chancellor of the University. Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Sh,ah was the Chief Guest.

A total of 777 students graduated from AKU’s global campuses with diplomas and degrees in 19 fields, bringing the total number of diplomas and degrees awarded by the University to more than 19,000, including more than 4,500 in East Africa. In Pakistan, the School of Nursing and Midwifery graduated its 5,000th student. Students graduated in nursing, medicine, education and media and communications.

“Graduands, my wish today is that you will know the joy of planting hope in people’s lives, of building bridges of understanding, of venturing into the uncharted waters where new knowledge is discovered,” His Highness the Aga Khan said. “May your futures be rich in challenges embraced and overcome. May you be bold amid uncertainty, and see your boldness rewarded.”

AKU dates its inception from the receipt of its Charter from the Government of Pakistan on March 16, 1983, making this its 40th anniversary week. Founder’s Day is a new annual tradition at AKU. On Founder’s Day, the University reflects on the vision of His Highness the Aga Khan, celebrates AKU’s impact and recognizes all those who are making the founding vision a reality: faculty, staff, donors, volunteers, students, alumni and partners. 

Princess Zahra Aga Khan expressed her gratitude to the global University community for the “magnificent gift” of its support for AKU over the past four decades. “As we mark its inaugural Founder’s Day, its 40th anniversary and the graduation of the Class of 2022, AKU has never had more to celebrate,” she said. “I am deeply, deeply grateful to everyone who has made its journey possible.”

President Sulaiman Shahabuddin paid tribute to His Highness and “his vision of a university that reconciles loyalty to international standards with service to those in need, that prepares its students to use knowledge to identify and solve problems, that demonstrates that science is the property of no single culture, but of all humanity.”

“It is thanks to his singular devotion to making that vision a reality, no matter the obstacles, that we are here today,” President Shahabuddin said. 

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the Chief Guest of the ceremony, said, “I am glad to be able to take this opportunity to thank the members of the AKU community who came to the aid of their fellow citizens in their hour of need, whether as volunteers or as donors. The fact that so many AKU students participated in the University’s flood response speaks highly of them and of the education that they have received here.”AKU’s 40th year will see the launch of several new academic programmes. In Pakistan, classes will begin at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In East Africa, the University will begin offering a six-year Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In Kampala, Uganda, the University is building a new campus that will include a University Hospital and academic centre.

In his message, His Highness the Aga Khan traced AKU’s 40-year journey from 1983 to the present, calling AKU a source of hope and expressing pride in its achievements and confidence in its future. 

“Today, as in 1983, the future of the University lies in the hands of its leaders, faculty, staff, and supporters,” His Highness said. “Together, all of us are the custodians of the founding vision. Our history gives us every reason to believe that so long as we remain true to that vision, AKU’s light – the light depicted in the University’s seal – will grow ever brighter, helping to illuminate the path to a better future for the people it serves.” 

In his valedictory speech, Mian Arsam Haroon urged his classmates to “transform into action the knowledge you have received in the halls of this university and honor the commitment of the village that raised you.”

The Chief Guest in Tanzania was Ambassador Manfredo Fanti, Head of the European Union Delegation to Tanzania and to the East African Community. In Uganda, the Chief Guest was Ms Cornelia Penzel, KfW Country Director for Uganda. In Kenya, the Chief Guest was Dr Beatrice Muganda Inyangala, Principal Secretary, State Department for Higher Education and Research.

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