Address​​​​​​​ by the Chief Guest​

Dr Ruth Aceng, Ministry of Health, Uganda

Graduands, congratulations! It is an honour to be able to address you on this most significant occasion. 

This is a day of celebration. It is a time to look back with satisfaction on the tremendous personal and professional progress you have made at the Aga Khan University. And it is a time to look forward to the future with optimism and enthusiasm. 

Make no mistake: this day is about you. Your hard work, your dreams, your success. But it is also about something that is bigger than all of us: the great project of accelerating the social and economic development of Uganda. Your part in that undertaking gives this convocation a resonance that extends far beyond this room, to the remotest areas of the country.  

Uganda’s Vision 2040 puts before our eyes the image of a country from which the scourges of extreme poverty, avoidable illness and poor educational outcomes have been banished. It asks us to be ambitious not just for ourselves, but for our communities and our country. 

I know that His Highness the Aga Khan shares this vision, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for all that he and the Aga Khan Development Network are doing in Uganda. The establishment of a new Aga Khan University Hospital here in Kampala will be a landmark in the history of health care in Uganda. It will make a profound difference in people’s lives.

Graduands, you have a critical role to play in realizing the vision of a Uganda where an individual’s fortunes are not determined by the circumstances of their birth, but by their talents and character. Hence this is a day of celebration not only for you, but for all those striving to improve the lives of their fellow citizens.  

Your country needs you. We need your commitment to service – the belief that it is the duty of the fortunate to aid those who are struggling. We need you to empower others by freely sharing your knowledge. We need you to set high standards, and to hold yourselves and others accountable for meeting them. 

The list of challenges we face in the field of health and education is long. President Rasul has touched upon many, and has offered wise advice for addressing them. I would like to echo and expand upon one of those points: the need to look beyond the confines of your organization and your discipline, and to broaden your horizons. 

This imperative is particularly relevant today, given that your ranks include not only nurses and midwives but teachers and educators. 

Graduands, the more closely you examine the problems you will address in your careers, the more you will see that they do not exist in isolation. Rather, they are intertwined with issues in other spheres. As a teacher, for example, you may find that your goal of increasing enrolment is hampered by students’ poor health. As a nurse or midwife, you may find that lack of education increases the risks faced by pregnant women and their babies. 

In such cases, you will have no alternative but to pursue interdisciplinary collaboration. If you remain confined to your area of expertise, your impact will be limited. But if you reach out and forge cross-disciplinary partnerships, you will find that you can move mountains. 

Therefore I urge you as you return to your jobs to make common cause with leaders in other fields. To ask how you can multiply your impact through collaboration. To stay connected to your classmates, and to forge new connections with alumni from elsewhere within AKU. 

In this way, and in the many other ways discussed by President Rasul, you can help to meet the challenges Uganda faces, to contribute to the transformation of our country and to achieve your goals.

Graduands, congratulations once again. And thank you to the Aga Khan University for educating such an outstanding group of leaders. I am certain I will be hearing about your successes in the years to come.​