Asian University for Women (AUW) celebrated its seventh convocation in Chattogram on Sunday to the tunes of Tagore’s Anondoloke and Aguner Poroshmoni sung by the University’s choir representing students from many countries.
100 students from 12 countries, majoring in Philosophy, Politics and Economics; Environmental Sciences; and Public Health were awarded with Bachelor’s degrees on the occasion.
AUW Chancellor (VC), Cherie Blair presided over the programme. In her address Blair commented to the graduating class, “You have the talent and the skills, and now the qualifications, to be successful and service-oriented members of the workforce, to be the change-makers in your spheres and become ethical and compassionate leaders.”
She noted that, “Equal opportunity is of particular significance to us here at AUW. This university is one of the battlegrounds on which women refighting for their equal right to education.” She went on to say that “Whilst individual dedication to upholding these values is crucial, it is also the responsibility of the lawmakers and the policy makers of the world to nurture and protect these principles”.
Two distinguished guests were honored by AUW with honorary doctorates at the convocation.
Dr Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi and noted proponent of Ravindra Sangeet, Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya were awarded with the honorary degrees.
Dr Humayon Qayoumi is the minister of Finance and chief advisor to the President in the Government of Afghanistan was awarded an honorary degree of laws.
Prior to returning to Afghanistan, Dr Qayoumi was the president of California State University East Bay and then served as President of San Jose State University. An engineer with four graduate degrees to his credit, Dr Qayoumi is an author of eight books and dozens of articles.
While presenting the honorary degree to Dr Qayoumi, AUW Founder Kamal Ahmad remarked, “We honor him today not only for his extraordinary achievements in academia and in government but also for his own life’s example which echoes the core ideals of AUW.
Growing up in a rural suburb of Kabul, Dr Qayoumi, the son of a carpenter in a family of six children would walk several miles, three times a week to receive English lesson. A scholarship to the American University of Beirut, and subsequently for graduate studies in the United States, he altered his life’s journey.
He, in turn, is now impacting the prospect of peace, stability, and well-being for the people of Afghanistan. His deep commitment towards expanding the opportunities of AUW’s education to women across Afghanistan’s 34 provinces had brought us into close partnership.”
While presenting the honorary degree of doctorate of arts to Rezwana Choudhury Bannya, Kamal Ahmad said, “Tagore’s vision of a world, Where the mind is without fear, Where knowledge is free, Where the world has not been broken up into fragments” is more important at times when these core values are under attacked almost everywhere. Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya through her unstinting efforts in cultivating the music and knowledge and philosophy of Tagore is inspiring this nation and others to abandon the insidious hate against each other and embrace the dignity of our common humanity as propounded by Tagore.”
Vice Chancellor Professor Nirmala Rao, OBE, FAcSS remarked that AUW graduates have already made a profound impact on the economic, cultural and social fabric of the communities in which they live. They are working in the private sector with major national and multinational companies and are also deeply involved with many nonprofit organizations that working with UN agencies such as UNHCR, WFP, the World Bank and others.
She further noted that AUW graduates, now over 800, span continents and industries is tied together with individual’s commitment in transforming their chosen field and contributing to the betterment of their communities.