Valedictory speech

By Betty Masengere, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Class of 2015

The Chancellor and founder of the Aga Khan University,

Members​ of the Board of Trustees, President Firoz Rasul, Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, Deans, faculty members, donors, distinguished guests, employers, parents, spouses and fellow graduates, good afternoon.

I am honoured and greatly privileged to stand here on behalf of all 2014 Aga Khan University Uganda campus graduates to deliver this speech. 

Dear graduands, by the grace of the Almighty God we did it!!! This long gestation period has finally terminated into a healthy outcome.

We, the graduands, would like to express our happiness and gratitude in having Your Highness preside over this function. Indeed, it is so humbling to be seated in the same gathering and that you considered our convocation of importance over other activities. I am humbly requesting the graduands and all in attendance to give His Highness the Aga Khan, the Ugandan applause.

Thank you so much, thank you very much.

I reminisce about the first day of our interaction with the Aga Khan University, nurses and midwives in hundreds assembled at the Examination Hall, the subsequent interviews and the long wait to receive an acceptance letter from AKU. But in July 2012, we embarked on this academic journey getting baptised with the title “2012 batch”. We have been at this honourable university for four semesters for the diploma and five semesters for the degree programme.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to inform you that the quality of education at the Aga Khan University is delivered by a team of well-qualified and committed faculty members. We have a state-of-the-art library, all students are provided with tablets and there is excellent internet connectivity at the Aga Khan University. We are eternally indebted to you, Your Highness, for all the facilities, services and financial assistance provided to us, without which, we would not have been able to achieve our dreams of higher education and advancing our careers.

Ladies and gentleman, I would like to share the highlights of our student experience that can only happen at the Aga Khan University. In our fourth semester, AKU organised a multi-continent, multidisciplinary, multicultural and multi-university online course, the Science of Early Childhood Development.  This gave us opportunity to share our knowledge and experiences with biology students from the University of Toronto, master’s students from the Institute for Educational Development in Karachi and nursing students from Tanzania and Uganda. Can you just imagine that? This was planned by the Aga Khan Foundation and Red River College in Canada.

My fellow graduands, we have come a long way, from writing portfolios, converting Word documents into PDF articles, academic writing, research, quizzes, making 20-minute PowerPoint presentations, video conferencing, workshops, making newsletters, making podcasts, to helping mothers giving life, clearing water sources during our community [work]. The list is endless. All of these things demanded the meticulous standard of Aga Khan University and I am proud to report that we aimed to achieve that meticulous standard.

The success we have achieved today should motivate us to strive for greater heights. My colleagues, encourage and support those under your jurisdiction to further their careers. Your success is only measured by how many beneath you, you have helped to rise. A candle never loses its brightness or fire when it lights other candles. Whenever challenges arise draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s words, Man’s “greatest glory  in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Be the change you would like to see in others. My colleagues let us bloom where we have been planted.

Your Highness, we are proud that we were the first Aga Khan University programme to start in East Africa and yet again we are the first to start a Post-RN Bachelor of Science degree in Midwifery. This once again opens doors for the midwives of this country who have for quite long searched for opportunities for furthering their studies. Thank you for beginning the bachelor’s degree in midwifery.

The high quality of education received at the Aga Khan University will indeed be boosted by a highly specialized clinical area that the Aga Khan hospital, which you have promised Uganda, will provide. Your Highness, I’m humbled to note that, one day, my dear country Uganda will have a chain of Aga Khan hospitals like it is in neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania.

Secondly, Your Highness, as you have already mentioned that this cooperation between the alumni now and the Aga Khan University should not end and we look forward to that day when the Aga Khan University will begin a master’s programme for nurses and midwives. We are sure that with you the dawn for this programme is nearer than we have ever imagined.

On behalf of my fellow graduates, I would like to extend our gratitude to everyone who enabled us to come out successful.

Special heartfelt appreciation goes to the faculty and staff of AKU under the competent leadership of the Academic Head, Mr Joseph Mwizerwa. Thank you so very much each of our lecturers for understanding our weakness and for making every effort to lift us to a degree and diploma level. You left no stone unturned. You never once gave up on us. Thank you for the wise counsels. We thank all the institutions, hospitals and communities that kept their gates open for our clinical and practical placements. Thank you the administrators, the clinical preceptors, mentors, clients and patients who willingly allowed us to work on them despite our being students.

I will fail in my duty if I do not acknowledge our sponsors, Rotary Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Belgium Technical Cooperation, employers, and others not mentioned whose generosity has enabled us to complete our programmes successfully and without financial stress.

In a very special way, we appreciate our families, our parents, our siblings, our spouses and our very young children, who willingly, patiently, silently endured our absence. Sometimes we were physically present but mentally very absent, deeply engrossed in assignments. Often times because of the intensity of this study programme your simple innocent requests were met with irrational responses, but still you offered your total support. And because your contribution is enormous, we dedicate all our diplomas and degrees to you.

Finally, once again I thank the University Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, the Board of Trustees for their vision and direction and the entire University team for making us who we are today and for coming to witness our success. Thank you all for being here, we wish you all a merry time and a safe journey back to your areas of abode.

For God and my country.

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