Hyderabad: The Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad celebrated its sixth Graduation Ceremony at its 100-acre campus near Shamshabad/RGI Airport on Saturday 25th May 2019. 74 students of the Class of 2019 concluded their International Baccalaureate journey at the Academy with a formal evening ceremony attended by fellow students, Academy senior management, faculty and staff as well as parents, extended families and invited guests. These students join a growing legacy of global young leaders, driven by the Academy’s unique curriculum and approach to education. The graduation marks a proud milestone of 1,000 such leaders across both the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad and its sister school, the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa (Kenya).
The Chief Guest was Mr. Sam Pickens, Deputy-Director of Communications of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), with which he has been associated for almost two decades. Sam grew up in India and the USA. His career has spanned freelance journalism, publishing and marketing for the commercial sector. In his speech, Sam focused on the importance of doing the right thing and the value of compassion, within the context of the AKDN’s ethical framework.
“I have learned in my life that it is far better – for your own self and for society – to do the right thing, even when the right thing is hard to do,” he said. “Your responsibility, as smart people, is also to be involved in the issues of the day. To do this effectively, you must have the leadership skills, the wisdom and the knowledge – not to mention a clear mind – to make the decisions that impact the lives of millions of people – in India, and around the world. The Academy has been put here, I believe, for that purpose. Society is best served when it provides the space and the means for human beings to reach their fullest potential, regardless of their background…This school is therefore a means for you – and society at large – to reach both your — and its — full potential.”
Salim Bhatia, Director of Academies, addressed the graduating cohort as ‘beacons of hope,’ those who are ‘putting into practice what you have learned as members of the Aga Khan Academies about the values we hold dear, including pluralism, ethics and civic engagement.’ Head of Academy, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, spoke about the transition of the graduating students from those who are guided to those who are independent, encouraging them to be brave and ending with an entreaty: “The one thing you must not be is a cold and timid soul.”
Class of 2019 graduates have been admitted to some of the top universities in the world, including Brown University, Utrecht University, University of British Columbia, University of Toronto and University of Michigan. Collectively, they have been awarded approximately $6 million in scholarships. Top achiever Rehana Savani received the Lester Pearson Award, earning her a full scholarship at the University of Toronto; the Global Citizenship Award at University of Alberta; and the President’s Scholarship at Drexel University. “The Academy fostered my uniqueness, protected me from my mistakes, and taught me to be a principled, global thinker,” she expressed. Everything changes, and this school was the perfect place for my metamorphosis.”
In the words of its founder, His Highness the Aga Khan, at the inauguration ceremony of the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa (2003), “As the young men and women from this Aga Khan Academy, and over time from its sister schools, grow and assume leadership in their societies, it is my hope that it will be members of this new generation who, driven by their own wide knowledge and inspiration, will change their societies; that they will gradually replace many of the external forces that appear, and sometimes seek, to control our destinies. These young men and women, I am sure, will become leaders in the governments and the institutions of civil society in their own countries, in international organisations and in all those institutions, academic, economic and artistic that create positive change in our world.”