Skip to main content

Speech by Wajahat Khan, Valedictorian

Dear fellow graduates, distinguished guests, esteemed parents, faculty members, and all staff, good morning to you all. On this auspicious occasion today, we have gathered here to celebrate this momentous convocation ceremony for the third graduating class of the University of Central Asia.

With great honour and gratitude, I, Wajahat Khan, today stand before you as the valedictorian of the remarkable class of 2023.

As I reflect upon the journey that brought us all here, I am reminded of the power of resilience and the pursuit of knowledge. Our paths have been diverse, our backgrounds varied, but what unites us is our unwavering commitment to academic growth and excellence.

Hailing from Hundur Yasin Valley, which is the remotest part of Gilgit Baltistan, where access to quality education was limited and the nearest schools were several kilometres away. I was determined to get an education. Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to have received a good education, despite all the challenges and uncertainties. I was lucky to have parents who instilled in me the love of learning from a very young age. They encouraged me to read, to ask questions, and to explore the world around me. I am grateful for the teachers who helped me along the way, who challenged me to think critically and taught me to never give up on my dreams. From the rough mountains of Gilgit to the vibrant classrooms of UCA, my journey has been challenging, filled with formative experiences that have helped shape me into an individual driven by curiosity and insatiable thirst for intellectual growth. I am pretty sure that each one of the graduates sitting here today has had an equally unique and exciting journey in life and at UCA.

Now, before I delve into how amazing this experience has been at UCA, I would like to invite the audience to give a huge round of applause to the brave students of UCA based at the Khorog and Naryn campuses for rising to the challenges and thriving successfully despite all the odds.

I remember when I first entered the campus, all our seniors were excited to see the newcomers for their colourful backgrounds and stories. Initially, we were doubtful of what the future may hold for us. Life at UCA presents a combination of highs and lows. While discontentment and despair could be part of arriving at any new institution, what distinguishes this University as a world-class institution is its vibrant, aspirational spirit that has driven us to give our best even in the most difficult times. UCA has truly helped us better understand ourselves and to unlock the diverse spectrum of our strengths so that we can confidently navigate the hurdles in our lives. For those of you sitting here wondering about the challenges, one example would be the online learning during the pandemic. Though we enjoyed the warmth of our blankets and perhaps several naps during the classes, we learned not to give up. My peers would deeply relate to this, especially those who are grinning right now. It actually makes us feel nostalgic to reminisce about all the memories throughout these years today, so let’s cherish those memories, good or bad, sweet or bitter. I remember the class of 2023 were given shirts with the print on stating Mountains of Opportunities. UCA indeed abounds in opportunities and with that comes the great teaching of acceptance, diversity, and pluralism as the core values of UCA.

Now, this fairy tale would not have been completed without the tireless support and effort of each and every single individual who is part of the UCA community. I would like to take this special moment to express my gratitude to the chancellor of the University, His Highness the Aga Khan and the Board of Trustees for their vision in establishing such a prestigious university in the remote mountainous regions of Central Asia. I am grateful to the senior management, administration, and all the staff at UCA for their exceptional dedication and support throughout our journey.

Dear graduates, we all owe a debt of gratitude to our remarkable faculty members who left it out there all for us with their unfailing resolve and passion to provide us with the best quality education, pushing us to go the extra mile even in the times we lacked the motivation and confidence.

I want to acknowledge the Cooperative Education Department for providing valuable opportunities to the students throughout our journey at UCA. The student life team deserves appreciation for their tireless efforts in supporting and coordinating our lives on campus. I extend my thanks to every representative of every family of the senior class, parents, guardians, sisters, brothers, whose support and dedication may not have been as obvious and recognised.

Additionally, I would like to thank all the loved ones in my life for their consistent motivation and their support. As a result of that I am here now. I would like to thank all the parents for their unreserved care and sacrifices without which this moment would have been impossible.

Today, the degree we will receive serves as a symbol of self-cultivation, achievement, an institution whose values and vision will continue to influence us in the rest of our life. We should not forget that this is the fruit of an intellectually stimulating community from which we take away an attitude of caring for and responsibility towards our society. We should be the symbol of change that we would want to see in the world. We should be the advocates and ambassadors of peace and knowledge as we embark on new paths and adventures. Our journey does not end here, rather it takes on a lifelong pursuit of excellence, growth, and changemaking in our communities and the world. So together, let us embrace the challenges that lie ahead and strive for success, not just for ourselves but for the advancement of the society as a whole.

I would like to conclude my speech with a statement from the Chancellor of UCA, His Highness the Aga Khan: “There is no greater form of preparation for change than education.”

Once again, congratulations my fellow graduates and may this message be the guiding light for you.

Cheers, thank you and chill.