​​​Valedictory Address

Ambreen Aziz Sonawalla, MBBS Class of 2015


Honourable Chief Guest Dr Ruth Pfau, member Board of Trustees Mr Zakir Mahmood, President Firoz Rasul, distinguished guests, faculty, parents, families, graduates, ladies and gentlemen: Assalam-o-alaikum and Good Afternoon!

To all the graduates in this hall, from the Medical College, the School of Nursing and Midwifery, and the Institute for Educational Development: Congratulations!

Today we have gathered to celebrate a victory, the achievements of each and every graduate of the Classes of 2015. But while today is a special day, on its own it means very little. It is special only because of the innumerable small victories that every person in this hall has had, over the last many years, that have culminated in today’s celebration. Victory was in the moment a mother sacrificed her comfort to let her child leave her arms and study in a different city; it was when a father gave up his sleep to drive his child to 6 am surgery rounds; it was each time a faculty member spent a little extra time in clinic or class just so the students could learn something new; it was in the hours and years that AKU’s educationists invested in building the curriculum that we, today, are fortunate to be a product of; it was each and every time that a friend sat and listened to us vent our frustrations out, and then showed us that everything would be alright; each time the CHC cafe uncle gave us an extra boti because we were on night shift; every time the Dissection Hall staff stayed an extra 10 minutes because we needed to study the models a little longer. From the Sports Centre facilities and its staff, that helped us students to remain sane and strong, and the Library staff who did night shifts so we could study comfortably, to the maintenance staff who kept AKU spick and span. It was each of these, and many, many more moments and people, that have allowed us to be able to call ourselves the AKU Graduates of 2015. Thank you for everything you have done for us, we would not be here without your sacrifices and support. Welcome to the Convocation 2015 - it is your celebration as much as it is ours!

To the Classes of 2015 - we have all come a long way from when we first met our class mates. There were days when the greatest annoyance for some of us was Karachi-dwellers using the word tafreeh - the most lifeless way to tell someone you’re having fun - shughal is more like it! For others, it was having to teach Lahoris that all human beings call socks mozey, not juraabein! But after several years together; years of surviving exams, celebrating birthdays, drinking cafe chai, stumbling together, and soaring together; years during which our country’s multitude of sects and groups warred against each other, we at AKU became our own multicultural family. We now know the dates of Diwali along with Eid, and the dance and music of the Northern Areas, or Punjab, or Sindh, are no longer just something we see on TV; our diversity has become our biggest strength, and because of it, we graduate today as more enriched individuals.

As we each clasp our degrees, and impatiently wait to step out to dazzle the world as bright new educationists, nurses, and doctors, the words of Mohammed Ali, the famous boxer, probably reflect our state of mind. He said, “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it”. We each have a tremendous amount of talent and potential, it is something we must never forget; and I have no doubt that the graduates of 2015 will inshaAllah be creating ripples of impact wherever we go. As we each achieve successes in our path, we must also remember the words of Joel Osteen, a prominent Pastor in the United States, who said, “Being successful doesn’t necessarily make you great. What makes you great is when you reach back and help somebody else become great.” We are where we are today, because numerous people invested their time and effort in us. Pay it forward. You never know how meaningful even a small gesture on your behalf can be to someone.

And lastly, a take-home thought that we could use in challenging times that may come up in the future, I quote the wise words of Albus Dumbledore. “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”

To everyone in this room, thank you for sharing in the glow of AKU’s light, and may we never forget to pass it on.

To the Graduates of 2015, I wish you all the best!

Thank you.