Text of the Speech by Hattaf Ayub, President Student Council, Class of 2019 at the Graduate Night 2019
Honourable Board of Trustees, Vice Chancellor, Deans, Faculty, dear parents – LUMS Family: Good Evening and Assalam-o-Alaikum!
It is an utmost honour to stand here, and have the opportunity to represent the dynamic Class of 2019. I am having mixed feelings of accomplishment, fear and hope, and gratitude.
Undoubtedly, we all have gone through ups and downs, passed and flunked calculus classes, attended 6 hour long labs, withstood the merciless blows of Zambeel, enrolment and what-not. But finally, with sheer determination and persistent effort, we all have made it today. It is indeed an accomplishment.
The feeling of anxiety and hope is intertwined. While the charming life at LUMS ends, it creates both fear and hope. Some people know what they are going to do with their lives ahead, and some people simply do not. They are confused and perplexed about the future. I want to tell them that the rigorous four years spent at LUMS have prepared us for all kinds of endeavours ahead, and it is also my strong conviction that hope should always trump fear. Hence, I have full faith that each and every one of us will do wonders, sooner or later. But, definitely, we will!
But the most important feeling that I want to talk about today is gratitude. I want us all to acknowledge the privilege that we have had, to receive world-class education in the country where the access to quality higher education is extremely exclusive. There are thousands of passionate and talented students on the street, who are yearning for quality education, but they cannot get it because they cannot afford it. I was one of them, but I got lucky.
Coming from one of the most economically challenged districts of Pakistan, Dera Ismail Khan, it was impossible and unthinkable for me to study at LUMS, unless I was provided full financial support.
I am extremely grateful to LUMS friends and benefactors who are supporting the generous National Outreach Programme (NOP) and other financial aid programmes. I want to tell them that they are doing magical stuff. The impact is so huge that it is transforming the lives of individuals, families and villages. My own journey is a proof of it, and I am sure there are many sitting around here who can relate and confirm this claim.
I always say this—the LUMS experience is magical. It transforms people into passionate and empathetic leaders. The Hattaf, standing here today, was quite different in 2015, when he stepped foot in this ‘heaven of education’ for the first time. I had done my initial schooling from a government-run school and then through a low-end ‘English-medium’ private school where even English was taught in Urdu! Although, the school was the best in the area, but if I reflect back now, it was less than a memorable experience according to every modern education standard. The only reason behind this was the lack of resources. The hunger to learn and grow was there. But, there was no place to fulfil that. The condition of education back home needs to change.
When I came to LUMS, it was a cultural shock for me. I had a speech-fluency disorder (stuttering) because of which I had developed a lack of confidence throughout my school years. I did not participate in classes, and I felt isolated. But the supportive and collaborative environment of LUMS, especially the mentorship of faculty, particularly of Dr. Aamna Khalid, who is instructor for the course, ‘Professional Communication’, helped me regain my confidence. I cannot thank her enough. It was through this confidence that I decided to run for the President of the Student Council. God knows that I had not done public speaking all my life before that, but with the confidence and support given by the LUMS family, I made it. Magic happened. I became the President of the LUMS Student Council.
After that, I never looked back. I can claim with full conviction and many people are witness to it that the skillset and the leadership skills that I learnt at LUMS have helped me make a difference in people’s lives. I have learnt to fight for myself and for the people who look up to me. My life has been transformed. I have endless possibilities ahead of me. This is the LUMS factor. This is the impact that LUMS has created.
Now, I am sure, all of you had different obstacles to surpass, and you all have been successful in your own ways. It was, indeed, your own effort, but the LUMS factor had an extremely crucial role too. That’s why the gratitude and a feeling of gratefulness for LUMS is important. Then with gratitude comes the feeling to give back and take action. And, today, I take a very solemn pledge to extend full financial support to at least two students whenever I will have the means to do so. But, immediately, I would like to pitch an idea to create a fund in the name of our class, the Class of 2019 Scholarship. This would extend full financial support to at least one deserving student throughout their career at LUMS.
Class of 2019, you have made it!
But the question to be asked is, are you going to help someone make it this far too? I hope that the answer is a resounding yes!
Congratulations and thank you very much.