By Maryam Baqir, MBBS Class of 2013
“Respected Chancellor and members Board of
Trustees, distinguished guests, esteemed faculty, dear parents,
graduates, ladies and gentlemen, “Assalam Alaikum”.
I welcome you all on behalf of the graduating
class of 2013 - a class of intelligence, compassion, extreme good looks
- and now a class of doctors, nurses and educationalists. It is a
separate thing though, that while our parents believe in our ability to
treat backaches, persistent headaches and nagging coughs, rest assured
that after five years of studies, we can still do none of those things.
I’d also like to welcome you on behalf of the
graduating nurses and educationists, proudly sitting here, forging a
tradition of excellence, setting a high bar for all of us to live up to.
Let us all look around and thank the family, spouses and friends who
have been indispensable in supporting us, the colleagues who labored and
walked with us and the teachers whose endearing souls transferred
passion from one heart to another.
I’d also like to thank Mr. Friedlieb
Ferdinand Runge – the guy who discovered caffeine. Mr. Runge, I may not
have pronounced your name correctly, but without you, Sir, we would have
never been able to graduate.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it took me nearly a
week to memorize the titles of the various disciplines we were taught in
1st year; there was anatomy, physiology, microbiology, statistics,
biochemistry and a class called histology which none of us ever studied
for. I remember leafing through my text books, gaping at the size of the
content and wishing if the earth could swallow me.
During second year, studying for lectures
made us all hypochondriacs. I diagnosed myself with stable angina,
hypothyroidism, diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome. And then 3rd
and 4th years began. We finally got to go the hospital! In surgery we
were able to hold a retractor for 3 hours, which is an amazing skill if
you think about it. I also learnt to wake up patients at 6 am only to
ask if they were passing any gas. Internal medicine taught us how to
walk around the hospital for a bazillion hours. In psychiatry we saw
patients with crippling anxiety, depression, crying spells and obsessive
compulsive personality disorders. However, only later did we discover
that these were actually our own fellow students. In Pediatrics, I
became scared of having kids of my own. In Obstetrics and Gynecology I
learnt what would happen if I did have kids of my own. And finally in
Emergency Medicine I saw how doctors, residents, interns, nurses and
technical staff come together as a team to save a single life.
And amidst all these eye-opening life lessons
and reckless schedules, a lot of people discovered their significant
others. Ladies and Gentlemen, our batch has more couples than there are
fingers on your hands. No wonder AKU won the Excellence in Student
Engagement Award this year!
Graduates of the School of Nursing, Medical
College and Institute for Educational Development, you leave here today
as enlightened individuals entrusted with the privilege of serving
society with your knowledge, skills, and resources. You are graduating
from an institution that stands on high standards and an adherence to
values. Let there be no compromises on ethics or quality and build your
We live in a society with an extremely uneven
distribution of income, and the very fact that we are here means that
we have been beneficiaries, directly or indirectly, of this skewed
system. I am hence filled with humility, guilt, and a desire not for
charity but for redemption. We must remember that it’s called giving
back not because we give what we have to those who do not, but because
we give back from whom we took in the first place.
In the pursuit of greatness though, as corny
as sounds, we must remember to spend quality time with friends and
family, and to take out time for things we love. To my fellow graduates:
nurses, teachers and doctors, we have shared a marvelous time and are
entering this puzzling and exciting new world together! Stay smart, stay
compassionate, stay beautiful, stay tolerant, give back, make a
I will miss you greatly. Class of 2013, congratulations!