Karachi: “I know how desperate Pakistani youth is for role models and I wish they had more,” said Dr Ruth Pfau, founder of the Mary Adelaide Leprosy Centre, while addressing the 412 graduands from 36 cities in Pakistan and 4 countries being awarded degrees and diplomas at the Aga Khan University convocation in Karachi today.
She spoke of how young people respond to individuals perceived to be exemplary, whom they can admire, respect and be influenced by, if you “give them somebody who they would like to follow, they will follow.”
The graduating class was urged to value and make use of the professionally sound education and training they have been provided and to remember that they will be providing a service, best rewarded by a person’s happiness and gratitude.
Earlier, in his welcome address Firoz Rasul, President, AKU spoke about civil society, of great importance for Pakistan and its neighbours and how everyone is a potential member.
“It is in civil society that both our unity and our diversity are expressed. We express our diversity when a multitude of voices speak without fear on every subject. We express our unity through the respect that we accord those whose perspective we may not share, but whose right to their perspective we respect,” he remarked.
When civil society is strong, communities and countries thrive. When they are not feared or discouraged, they are important contributors to the public good. “Otherwise, the ‘Ruth Pfaus’ of today and tomorrow may find it impossible to help us address the many challenges Pakistan faces.”
“To find the determination and desire to take action … to galvanize others into joining you – that is the challenge you will face, but your determined effort is exactly what is needed to strengthen civil society organisations in our communities, professions and our country,” said President Rasul, urging graduands to become effective agents of social development.
This year, 233 nurses graduated, 212 with undergraduate and 21 with graduate degrees. In medicine, 2 PhDs in the health sciences, 20 master’s, 96 undergraduate degrees and 17 advanced diplomas (13 in Human Development; 4 in Health Professions Education) were awarded. The PhD in Education went to a student from the northern areas. In addition, 31 master’s degrees and 12 advanced diplomas in education were granted.
There were two best graduate awards with Dr Amna Qasim from the Medical College and Afsheen Amirali Hirani from the School of Nursing and Midwifery receiving the honours.
The University also honoured two of its faculty. Dr Abdou Filali-Ansary, the founding director of AKU’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, from 2002-2010, was conferred the title of Professor Emeritus and Dr Muhammad Memon, the director of the Institute for Educational Development, Pakistan was conferred the Award of Excellence in Education.