Global Valedictorians

Javeria Tariq​

Distinguished guests, faculty, valued members of the AKU community and my fellow graduands, I am deeply honored to welcome you all today on behalf of the Aga Khan University's Class of 2023. 

I am the granddaughter of a man who came from a small village in India, migrated to Pakistan and struggled day and night to support his family. I am the granddaughter of a woman who could not go to school. So I acutely recognize the weight of my words when I say we are graduating from AKU, the acronym that speaks for itself, with all its notable alumni, the physicians, nurses, researchers, and educationists – a community we will soon join. 

Like several other pages and chapters of our life book; here is another one; the day we graduate; the very moment we all had been waiting for. I am grateful for the memories we've created, lifelong friendships we have made and the invaluable lessons we've learned. In my classmates, I see boundless potential, and in every single one of you – a leader. AKU has prepared us to face challenges with agility, perseverance, and courage.

I would like to express my gratitude to those who made this journey possible; our chancellor whose vision guided us, our phenomenal faculty and mentors, our ever-supportive parents, who made countless sacrifices to ensure our success, and of course our friends, who have been the strongest pillars of support; Thank you!

Every single one of us sitting here has experienced loss or grief or sacrifice in one way or other over the past few years. We lost a very dear faculty, our very own student; Yet we are all here, with our friends and family and we are very much alive. And if that isn’t the definition of resilience, I don’t know what is. We have also embraced the importance of being humanitarians, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

My fellow graduands, each of us carries the legacy within. With a diploma in hand and a burning passion in our hearts, together, let’s illuminate the world. Today, as you celebrate this joyous occasion in your beautiful green regalia, you symbolize hope for millions who lack access to education and healthcare. They need you.

We are the AKU family, and this family will always have our backs. Let us have the audacity to hope that saving one life, changing one story, bringing one smile, is more than enough. May God bless our hands with the power to heal, our hearts with boundless empathy, and our words with the gift of hope. Today marks not an end - rather a new beginning. Let’s make history.

In the spirit of our school, I leave you with the words of poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, alive with the brave hope that inequity will fall, love and justice will prevail; roughly translated to:

"Every crown will be flung,
Every throne brought down,
It is absolute that we shall witness,
We shall witness."​

Congratulations class of 2023 - we all did it! Thank you.

Dr Susan Cheruiyot​​

Distinguished guests, faculty, valued members of the AKU community and my fellow graduands:

Entreprenuer Martin Ugwu said, and I quote: Life is a journey. Be prepared and you'll reach your destiny; Be distracted and you'll suffer a wreck; Keep bad company and you'll be robbed of your destiny. Today, as valedictorian, I’d like to share three experiences based off this quote, that I believe, sum up our student life here.

First, life is a journey. And with every journey, there are ups and downs. Some of my steepest lows have been embraced in the last four years with great lessons. The biggest one is that there is a reason and a season for every person that crosses your path. I was separated from the love of my life within the first year of residency. It was a difficult time, trying to balance work life and long hospital calls with a shaky home life. But we conquered that season and that is why we are here today! Fellow graduands, seasons will most certainly change, and when winter knocks, embrace it; once at the bottom of the valley, the only other way is up.

Second; Be prepared and focused, and you'll reach your destiny. Most of us walked through the Aga Khan University gates about two to four years ago. Some of you may have been like me; we didn’t walk in, but rather had stumbled in. Let me explain; I for one started the interview sessions with a strut in confidence, feeling very prepared and ready, but then I got into the waiting list of my preferred program! So close yet so far. Its indeed been a long story of persistence and fate, with a happy ending in Family Medicine. What am I saying; be prepared, but at the same time, keep your eyes on the goal. Rejection might just be redirection into God’s plan for you.

Lastly; Togetherness wins! In our time here at The Aga Khan University in Kenya, I have truly felt the African spirit of Ubuntu, I am because you are. Ubuntu. This campus community has instilled in us service, the value of mentorship, and that barriers can, and should be broken. To the entire faculty and those who create an enabling learning environment, we cannot thank you enough; you have held our hand and offered us a launch pad.

And thus, as we come to the end of our stay here, let us reflect. What hard lessons have we learnt? What distractions have we encountered? Did we fall, or rise again? 

The last few years can be summed up with one word: Inspiration! We have been inspired to spread our wings and to pay it forward. As I bow out of this podium, I would like, on behalf of my fellow graduands, to thank His Highness the Aga Khan for the inspiration and the opportunity to get one step closer to our destiny. Thank you.