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Welcome Address by the UCA Rector, Prof Dr S Sohail H Naqvi at the UCA Graduation 2022

Good Morning

Chancellor of the University, His Highness the Aga Khan

Patrons of the University, Their Excellencies the Presidents of the Founding States of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

Honorable Ministers of Education

Honorable Governors,

Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Shamsh Kassim-Lakha

Members of the Board of Trustees

Deans, Faculty and Staff of the University

Parents, supporters, and distinguished guests

and Dear Graduates Assalam Alaikum

Welcome to the 2nd Convocation Ceremony of the University of Central Asia.

Hard to believe that already a year has passed since the first batch of students from the School of Arts and Science, graduated. As the hills surrounding our campuses, resound with the sound of music from the Convocation, and as Spring leisurely transitions to Summer with a riot of colours across the campus and a hint of warmth in the breeze; the realization must surely be coming to you that it is time to fly the nest and soar across new horizons opening up.

Dear Graduates, you came to this institution, when it was only a promise and a grand vision of His Highness -- of education and research to improve the quality of life of the people of these beautiful surroundings. Over the years, you succeeded in one academic challenge after another, and then -- each of you, as the grand finale of your education journey, undertook a project on a topic of your choice that reflected your passion. Contextualizing your knowledge and learning, you worked on, for example:

Quantifying Risks of the Naturally Dammed Lake Rivakkul in Gorno Badakhshan

The Story of Resettlement: Afghan Refugees in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Smart, digital libraries for remote rural communities

The Role of Gender in Accessing Finance by Small and Medium Enterprises in Central Asia

Remaining true to the Chancellor’s vision, you, the graduates, have strived to understand our communities and how we may chart a path for their development.


The world has also recognised your achievements. Aqila Hassanzada is already at Brown University in the US, thanks to a partial scholarship from Brown, and Chairman Lakha’s successful efforts for the remainder; Suyuna Dadybaeva, who graduated last year, is proceeding on a full scholarship to the National University of Singapore; and Zulfiqor Khojazoda, also from last year’s batch received a full Erasmus Mundos scholarship for study at Ghent university!

Ladies and Gentlemen, dreams do come true at UCA.

This has also been a year of conflict and loss, and through all of these setbacks, you have carried on. Life never progresses as planned and your demonstrated ability to adapt, will serve you well.

The educational and research journey of the graduates in Khorog and Naryn has greatly benefited from work of the constituent institutes of the Graduate School of Development conducting research on subjects ranging from climate change and natural disasters, to Life in Kyrgyzstan

Survey, and cultural heritage of the Pamir regions. In the application domain, partnership with the School of Professional and Continuing education is bring entrepreneurship and innovation to our campuses, while also helping define new pathways for the preparatory year programmes.

Curating this knowledge across multiple fields, guiding the students through your academic and personal journeys on campus, has been the faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences. The success of the graduates today is a vivid testimony to their brilliant efforts, so ably guided by the Dean Khomyakov and Associate Deans Kuchakshoev and Ashrafi, with the support of Department Chairs.

Parallel to the academic journey that has brought each of the graduates here, is their individual journey and struggles that have shaped them. Hidden behind this picture are the prayers, efforts, love and endless support of their parents, family and friends. Graduates, recognize that today has been made possible by all your loved ones.

We also acknowledge the significant financial support of the Aga Khan Development Network, and the guidance of UCA’s board of trustees who are the architects of this dream -- realized in part today.

This year saw the unveiling of the creative space in Naryn and the Geodynamics laboratory in Khorog. Multiple young faculty members received scholarships to complete their PhD studies at our partner institutions, and in a novel experiment Communications and Media students “virtually” became a part of multiple classes taught at the University of Auckland. Working with the world, we are clear that enhancement of student and faculty experience will drive our future.

Experiences that cement learning, that ground us, that put life into perspective, and forge the steel that defines us.

So, what are you, dear students, going to remember? Formulas, techniques, history dates, references -- or something deeper.

What we remember is linked to our experiences – and our heart. You will remember what touched your heart, evoked emotions of love, respect, gratitude and perhaps sadness. You will remember that which engaged with your value system. The rest of the memories will evolve and be shaped with time and experience.

At the School of Arts and Sciences, the curriculum, learning and living experience has been designed to focus on that which is core -- service to humanity -- and will endure. UCA values, an integral part of your steel, is what you take forward. They will serve you well.

And now, at the conclusion of my term as Rector, it is time for both you, dear graduates, and I to bid adieu -- with endless gratitude.

It is now my distinct honour and pleasure to invite Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for his address.