Honourable Chief Guest,
Board of Trustees,
Provost, Deans, Faculty,
Staff of the Aga Khan University
Families and my fellow graduates,
As Salam u Alaikum and good afternoon to you all
I must admit I was a bit nervous and confused while I wrote this speech. Nervous, because if I messed this up, it will be on YouTube forever. Confused because what could I say that had not been said before, what could I do that had not been done before? For a while I considered doing this speech as slam poetry or a rap song. Turns out I am terrible at both. So, I called my elder brother and asked him for advice. He replied: “Sarosh, whatever you do, don’t fumble. Because if you do, we as a family will disinherit you.” So here I am, giving what has been one of the most difficult speeches of my life and concurrently trying to protect my inheritance.
What seems like millennials ago, after a rigorous process of admission tests and interviews we finally to received our decision letter from AKU. We could feel the eyes of our parents, unsure whether to jump with excitement or to tell us “It’s okay beta! Some kids have other abilities” We came to AKU as naïve but driven youngsters ready to take on the world and become health professionals.
The journey of moving into AKU is itself an incredible one. It was an expedition of never have I ever. For e.g. never have I ever seen giant sized lizards, never have I ever snuck air conditioning units in a hostel, never have I ever stayed beyond 9 pm on the SONAM patio and never have I ever cried like a baby when my friends graduated and were leaving. Yet we did all those things as students of AKU. But for me, it was the constant reminder from the Hostellites, of how much of a failure I was a Karachite that got to me. For within a month of moving in, Hostellites had not only tried every restaurant and movie theatre built in the city, but had uploaded professional photos of those places, written reviews and had them published in reputed blogs. And here I was, trying to figure out what is the difference between chicken ginger and chicken curry in the CHC cafe.
Each year of ours at AKU has a special memory attached to it. Our first year was generally spent trying to figure which part of the stethoscope was used to listen to the heart. I am kidding, we were smarter than that or so I think. The second year was memorable for its end. This was the time when anyone on campus could identify a 2nd year student. If you saw a man with unkempt hair and an overgrown beard, wearing kurta over shorts, eating cake with ketchup, at midnight, in the main café, that is most likely a 2nd year student trying to give his final exams. Then came the time we had been waiting for. The time of formal shirts, branded ties and purses, shiny sneakers and spotless uniforms. The clinical years. We all remember the clinical years in many ways. The early mornings, the late nights, the endless questions of our professors, the happiness of finally getting an IV line on the 10th try while the poor patient screams in your face and the euphoria of finally understanding what a glycerine suppository is used for. But the most important year was the final year. It was the year of transformation. For inexperienced clean shaven boys turned into bearded mature men, with a few exceptions on the bearded front of course, and timid and simple girls turned into bold and tall women, ready to break the glass ceiling. But most importantly, from MC and SONAM and IED we transformed into a university.
But what could capture the essence of our time here at AKU. Was is it perseverance, kindness, empathy, hard work, faith, friendship, family? It was all those and more. The essence, I think, is best captured by this quote by the Chancellor. He said “the right to hope is the most powerful human motivation I know.” The right to hope. In our time here, as medical students, as nursing students and as educationists, we have seen people from all walks of life. People of different ages, genders, race, ethnicities who came to us battered by sickness and broken in spirit and we as part of this institution, took care of them, nursed them back to health and brought them back up on their feet. But most importantly, we gave them their right to hope. Hope for a future full of health, sustainability and opportunity. That, my fellow graduates is the gift and responsibility that this institution has given us, so that wherever we may go, we work in a way to give people the right to hope.
The second thing that I would like to talk to my fellow graduates about, is that in pursuit of success and happiness, there will be times when you will feel down trodden, mediocre and just regular. When that happens, I want you to look yourself in the mirror, remember this day and tell yourself, you’re not regular, you’re spectacular! You are the graduates of the Aga Khan University; you are nothing short of extraordinary.
There have been several people who have made this journey with us, who the class of 2018 would like to thank. We want to thank our families; our parents, siblings and spouses for supporting us and being our simulated patients when we wanted to practice for our OSCE’s. Thank you for showing us what unconditional love looks like.
To our faculty for teaching us more than just medicine. To enabling us to conquer our problems and challenges. Thank you for proving that there is no honour like knowledge.
To the staff of AKU and our Hostel Clan, thank you for being our family away from home.
And finally, the class of 2018 would like to thank a very special person in our lives. Quite literally without him, we would not be able to call ourselves graduates of the Aga Khan University. The class of 2018 would like thank our Chancellor, His Highness The Aga Khan. Thank you, Sir, for everything.
With that my fellow graduates, I leave you. Wiser, happier and whole lot more nostalgic. Let’s go out there and be spectacular!