​Valedictory Address

Bernadatte Mwikali Ngumu​, BScN Class of 2016​​

The Chief Guest, Dr Fred Okengo Matiang’i, Mr Yusuf Keshavjee, Member of the Board of Trustees, Mr Firoz Rasul, President of Aga Khan University, Honoured Guests, Faculty, Staff, Alumni and my dear fellow Graduates.

Jambo and Good morning,

I am honored to give this speech on behalf of my fellow graduates. First and foremost, we thank the almighty God for he has been the author and finisher of this journey, to Him be all honour and glory.

Secondly, we convey our sincere gratitude to the Chancellor of the University, His Highness the Aga Khan, for his vision and commitment to the advancement of service to humanity through world-class education and health.

As a first year student, I remember listening to a previous graduate present her valedictory speech.  In it she mentioned that she was presenting the 15th revision of her speech. Today, I relate to that. There is so much to write about our time here but one of the things we learned was how to narrow down to the most important things.

We chose Aga Khan University because we wanted to do the impossible and Aga Khan University is the place, equipped with resources and faculty to do just that. Aga Khan University is proud of so many cultures such as quality, access but the one I find most exciting is the culture of commitment to quality and excellence.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I want you to know that our programme is a rigorous one. It starts with the selection into the Programme, which was not biased on financial strength or who you know but admission was based purely on merit. Aga Khan University culture of excellence is evident in the programme's content and delivery. The faculty called us out of our comfort zones into a realm of excellence. Of course, there were normal skills that every university student would say they have learnt such as critical thinking and problem solving.

However, today I choose to reflect on teamwork, embracing change and becoming a lifelong learner. These really stood out among all the things learnt. Just like sailors we rowed our boat, each one of us exerting equal efforts and here we are celebrating our achievements. Congratulations to ourselves.

Teamwork was cultivated from the very first day when we adopted the phrase, ‘Hii degree ni Harambee’. As you, all know Harambee is the rallying call to work together that our forefathers embraced right from the inception of the Republic of Kenya. It was not easy but now you can agree with me that you cannot change the world alone, we need teamwork. Due to its culture of excellence, Aga Khan University is definitely a benchmark institution that is ahead of its time and ahead of the pack.

We cannot have a great pot without a skilled potter and quality clay. My dear fellow graduates, I liken you to the quality clay and Aga University to the skilled potter and here we are today as great pots. We have been versatile and embraced change as our faculty strived to mould us into world-class nurses, doctors and teachers to serve in our country and beyond.

The commitment to lifelong learning and applying evidence-based practice was instilled in us, as the program demanded that we go out and put theory into practice. We remember and thank our supervisors, preceptors, mentors and patients who made this possible. Let our achievement today mark but a small step in our journey as lifelong learners so that we can be able to fit into the changing and fast-paced world out there with its new developments every day. As Henry Ford said, anyone who stops learning is old whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

Ladies and Gentlemen, just like any other student anywhere else in the world, we have faced many hurdles during our learning period. As we crown this journey today with the gowns and caps on our heads, may I underscore the fact that it has taken hard work and great effort to achieve what we have today. We recollect moments of apprehension due to endless lists of unfinished assignments, including practice portfolios, scholarly term papers, research proposals, elective projects and case presentations.

Remember those sleepless nights, for some with with feverish babies on their laps, trying to beat deadlines coupled with other family and work pressures, not forgetting those 24 hour calls for some of us. All these challenges did not dampen our spirits nor discourage us, but instead acted as fuel to propel us through and provided an opportunity of preparing and shaping us for this day and beyond.

Our most sincere gratitude goes to our families: parents, siblings, spouses, and our children for your constant support and understanding during our busy life. Not forgetting our house managers for ensuring that home environment was conducive for our learning.

We thank the University’s leadership and faculty members for the emphasis that under no circumstances would mediocrity be tolerated. Today, quality and excellence is our second name, thanks to you. We thank our employers for giving us the opportunity to further our studies. To our Colleagues and friends thanks for your moral and spiritual support.

We can attest to the fact that, the library has the best internet connectivity in the region with a lot of online materials, enough computers, and current editions of books and journals; this made our educational journey easier. For sure you deserved the Maktaba award you worn. Not forgetting the ICT department which worked together with library to equip us with digital skills to be used, not only in academia but also in service delivery.

We acknowledge the donors and sponsors, like, Johnsons and Johnsons, The Rotary International Foundation who have supported us and who eased our financial strain.  Judging by the quality of education we have received, if the true financial cost were to be put on the student, Believe you me, many of us would not be here.  Not forgetting the finance department for being flexible with the tuition payment plan.  

Last but not the least we thank the non-teaching staff that worked in the background making this institution run like a well-oiled machine.

Finally, we are thankful to all who supported us in our journey in one way or another.

May God bless you all as you go back home.

I leave you with Sam Levenson’s words:

“Don’t watch the clock, do what it does. Keep going.”​

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