UCA Class of 2023 Graduates with Lofty Dreams
Central Asia, 16 June 2023 - Amid the majestic mountains of the Pamirs and Tien Shan, the graduation ceremonies at the two University of Central Asia (UCA) campuses in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan and Khorog, Tajikistan brought together parents, faculty and distinguished guests – both in-person and via live stream – to congratulate the students for their achievements and prospects of success, share in their moment of joy and wish them well as they set forward on new paths to realise their dreams.
Princess Zahra Aga Khan, a member of UCA's Board of Trustees, attended the ceremony in Naryn and addressed the guests. She recognised the contributions made by those who have supported the success and achievements of the graduates, as well as the overall progress of UCA. She thanked the faculty and staff, "who sparked the graduates' curiosity and stimulated their hunger for knowledge". She also extended her profound gratitude to donors, partners and volunteers. "Without their abundant generosity and assistance, the University of Central Asia would not be sending these talented women and men into the world," she said.
Princess Zahra’s address included a message from His Highness the Aga Khan, Chancellor and Founder of the University. It emphasised that the graduates have received an education that has prepared them to tackle the challenges faced by Central Asia and the world, such as new forms of artificial intelligence and climate change.
You have been trained in computer science, environmental science, economics and communications – each a field of vital importance. You have discovered what it means to live in a diverse community. Above all, you have learned that challenges are not to be feared but to be embraced.
Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Chairman of UCA's Board of Trustees, delivered a welcome address and expressed deep appreciation on behalf of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees to the patrons of the University – the Presidents of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Kazakhstan – for their valuable support of UCA. He stated, "We thank the Ministry of Education and Sciences of the three founding states for helping us implement innovative educational programmes. We are grateful to the oblast governors and mayors of Naryn, Khorog and Tekeli for welcoming UCA as part of their communities."
Anita Zaidi, President of the Gender Equality Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, made a keynote address. A graduate of the Aga Khan University (AKU), she shared powerful lessons from her life and career, which have focused on combating infectious diseases that affect children and advocating for a more gender-equal world. Recalling her meeting with His Highness the Aga Khan amongst graduates of AKU’s medical school and advice received from him to serve her home country, Pakistan, she urged the graduates to serve Central Asia as they embark on their professional journeys, emphasising the importance of giving back to their communities.
“We provide a ticket to a magnificent life to our children, the graduates of one of the few universities in the world whose energy is directed toward enhancing the quality of life of mountain communities,” stated His Excellency Imanaliev Kanybek Kapashovich, Minister of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic, who attended the ceremony as a chief guest at UCA’s Naryn campus.
A chief guest at UCA’s Khorog campus, Dr Hudoydodzoda Farrukh of the Tajik Ministry of Education and Science said, “I am delighted that the University of Central Asia has established close cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan and other educational agencies of the Republic of Tajikistan and I am confident that it will make a significant contribution to the education of the country in the future.”
Class valedictorian Wajahat Khan, who hails from a rural part of Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan, where he used to walk 6 km every day to get to school, expressed gratitude to all the parents for their unwavering care and sacrifices, without which the graduates would not have achieved their accomplishments. He also urged his fellow graduates to maintain an attitude of care and responsibility towards society, stating, "We should be an example of the change we want to see in the world. We should be advocates and ambassadors of peace and knowledge as we embark on new paths and adventures."