Against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the University of Central Asia (UCA) celebrated the achievements of its inaugural cohort of graduates: the Class of 2021. The live-streamed Convocation brought together students, family members, faculty, and well-wishers across multiple countries and time zones around the world.
At this historic milestone event for UCA on 19th June 2021, graduates and faculty dressed in the newly designed academic regalia, added a festive mood to the Convocation proceedings amid the picturesque mountain landscapes of Khorog, Tajikistan and Naryn, Kyrgyzstan.
Historically, this part of the world is well-known for the renowned Silk Route — a trading passage that once connected China with the Mediterranean, via the high mountains of Central Asia. This borderless journey led to an exchange of ideas and knowledge, and the region soon became a hub of invention and innovation.
Delivering the Chancellor’s address, His Highness the Aga Khan spoke of the strong bonds forged by UCA across frontiers, and the resulting potential to address the challenges of development in the region.
As part of the ceremony, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Mr Sadyr Japarov, delivered a congratulatory address to graduates: “The future of any country depends on its intellectuals and educated youth,” he said, “and a process of intellectualisation is currently underway.”
The University’s campuses play a vital role in this process, nurturing small communities of responsible citizens and future leaders. In his remarks, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, focussed on these communities and their potential to positively transform the towns of Naryn, Khorog, and Tekeli. “Our long-term joint vision led by the town municipalities is to see these communities transformed into thriving University Towns where economic, social, and cultural opportunities abound for everyone,” he said.
UCA Rector, Professor Sohail H. Naqvi, paid special tribute to the resilience of students, who in recent months have been tested not only academically but also emotionally, due to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. “You are pioneers, adventurers, leaders without peers and this region’s hope for the future,”’ he said. “The beautiful environments of this campus, the phenomenal work of the faculty, the support of all your family and peers — it has all been about your development.”
Class valedictorian Karlygash Kussainova thanked the Chancellor and University management for their vision and “for the wisdom of creating a World-Class University in these remote Central Asian mountains.” She also thanked the faculty, student life team, family members, and friends for their support throughout the journey, helping them grow from timid teenagers to courageous and confident adults.