KARACHI - Graduation day at Aga Khan University marked an important milestone as the ceremony will be its 25th Convocation in Pakistan, with 321 graduates were awarded degrees.

Much emotion and excitement was visible on the faces of the graduating students and their families with Irfan Ahmed Siddiqui, Valedictorian, Class of 2012 summing up their feelings.

“I consider myself privileged to now join a league of individuals who have upheld the highest principles of our profession with grace and dedication. Through academia, clinical practice and public service, scores of graduates have set a high bar for us all to live up to,” he said.

During the convocation, the Institute for Educational Development awarded a PhD in Education and 31 Master of Education degrees. Ten students received an Advanced Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

The medical college graduated 94 doctors and granted seven Master of Science degrees, three in the field of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and four in Health Policy and Management, as well as 20 Master of Bioethics degrees. Nineteen graduates were awarded Advanced Diplomas, 12 in Human Development and 7 in Health Profession Education.

From the School of Nursing and Midwifery, there were 140 graduates. These included 11 Master of Science in Nursing, 40 Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 38 Post-RN Bachelor of Science in Nursing and 51 Diploma in General Nursing.

The chief guest, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Finance reminded the graduates that their country has given to them substantially and it is now important to give back to the motherland. They have the power to transform societies and to fundamentally alter the lives of people.

The value of quality was the cornerstone of President Feroz Rasul’s speech. “The pursuit of quality – especially in the higher education sector – is vital at all times. It is what drives us higher, makes us better and improves our standards. In the words of our Chancellor “Quality is the only guarantor of success.” He pointed out that quality is a mindset, a way of thinking or an attitude. It is exactly during times of change, crisis or difficulties that “quality standards help maintain confidence, provide an anchor and enable individuals, businesses and institutions to not just survive, but thrive.”

Zeb Aijaz Saeed and Sana Asghar Ali Habib, recipients of the Best Graduate Award from the Medical College and School of Nursing respectively, received a thunderous applause from their fellow students.

Three people received honours at Saturday’s Convocation Ceremony.

Dr Abdul Gaffar Billoo was granted the honorary title of Professor Emeritus for his enduring contributions to the University.

During his tenure at AKU, Dr Billoo implemented an ambitious programme to reform postgraduate medical education, develop capacity of faculty, and build comprehensive continuing medical education opportunities for health professionals. But his work was not restricted to academia alone.. He founded and currently chairs the Hygiene and Nutrition Development Society of Pakistan (or HANDS), which was conceived to increase access of children in interior Sindh to healthcare.

Dr Sadrudin Pardhan was also honoured with the title of Professor Emeritus for his key role in setting the stage for a vibrant Institute for Education Development and bringing the vision to reality. He has helped build an Institute of high calibre in Pakistan that has quickly became a reference point for the pursuit of excellence in education.

The award of distinction was given to Dr Zulifiqar Ahmed Bhutta for his work to identify simple solutions to daunting challenges in child health and survival in this country and across the developing world. Dr Bhutta has intertwined community service delivery with sound research to identify the best strategies and interventions for improved child health and mortality outcomes.

The event was attended by a large number of guests including dignitaries and the delegation accompanying Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh.