Exactly a year after the University of Central Asia’s historic inaugural convocation ceremony, its new Class of 2022 celebrated their achievements and became the second graduating class. A total of 66 students from the Naryn and Khorog campuses graduated from UCA and look forward to sharing their knowledge and skills among wider society.

At the ceremony, the keynote address was delivered by Princess Zahra, a trustee of the University, who spoke on behalf of Mawlana Hazar Imam. 

“It is the Chancellor’s hope that the graduates of the School of Arts and Sciences will not only find employment opportunities in the region, but also that the graduates will themselves create employment opportunities and successful businesses to invigorate the economy of the entire region,” said Princess Zahra. “Building an active and successful economic environment will improve the lives of all communities and add to social stability and well-being for all.” 

“As you continue your professional journey, our hopes and aspirations go with you,” she added. “Ultimately, UCA’s success will be measured by the success of its graduates. No effort has been spared to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to enable you to thrive in a rapidly changing world, and it is our dearest hope that you will underpin your professional growth with the values of pluralism, responsible citizenship and ethical leadership.”


Princess Zahra, a trustee of UCA, delivered a keynote address at the University's convocation ceremony for the Class of 2022.
Princess Zahra, a trustee of UCA, delivered a keynote address at the University's convocation ceremony for the Class of 2022.
Photo: UCA

Also in attendance at the ceremony were Dr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Chairman of the Board of Trustees; Professor Sohail H. Naqvi, the Rector; and government representatives of both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. 

The previous evening, an awards night took place to acknowledge students for their academic and extracurricular achievements throughout the five years of undergraduate study. Prizes included the all-round leadership award, outstanding community service award, the best co-op student, best athlete, innovative diploma project, and outstanding graduate. Academic awards were presented based on majors, while awards for extracurricular achievements were campus-based. 

Sumaino Shakarbekova from Ishkashim in Tajikistan received the outstanding graduate award among the Communication and Media group of students. She was also selected to be the class valedictorian. 

“I am extremely humbled to receive the outstanding graduate award and become the valedictorian of the Class of 2022,” said Sumaino. “I extend my gratitude to His Highness the Aga Khan and the board of trustees for their vision and support for a university dedicated to such a superior quality of higher education in mountain communities of Central Asia. I also want to thank the people who supported me and believed in me, especially my family, without whom I would not be able to stay and receive these awards today.” 

This award is presented to graduates who have excelled in all areas and have invested time and effort towards improving community life at UCA and beyond. 

Valeriya Nikiforova from Kazakhstan, who studied computer science, received the innovative diploma project award. Her final project helped to build smart, digital libraries for rural communities in Central Asia. 

“The vision of this project was to develop a low-cost electronic library that would allow rural communities to overcome Internet speed limitations,” she explained. “The open-source library stores, automatically downloads, and shares materials such as videos, books, news, and government websites.”

Valeriya plans to implement this project on a larger scale in the future, and make e-libraries more accessible for rural communities with limited access to the Internet. 

Graduates of the Class of 2022 describe their learning experience at UCA as rich and transformative. “UCA has transformed me from an enthusiastic young boy to a media practitioner with a vision of bringing social change in mountain communities,” said Mubashir Ali Shah Artas from Pakistan, who earned a degree in Communication and Media. 

Some of the new cohort of graduates have earned admission to universities in the USA, Europe, and Russia for graduate studies. Others prefer to work for a year or two to gain experience and explore different fields before pursuing a master's degree. 

“The realm of communications and media is incredibly diverse and fascinating,” said Anisa Alinazarova, from Khorog in Tajikistan. “I have learned a lot in the past five years.” 

Despite this, Anisa believes that the soft skills and values developed over the past five years will play a larger role in building their careers and meeting the challenges of the wider world after life at UCA. 

“Gaining some work experience will help me choose my interests so that I can pursue further studies,” said Mehmood Yar Baig from Pakistan, who studied Computer Science. “Apart from studies, the aim is to strive for improving quality of life in highly marginalised areas in the mountains, and I strongly believe that it's our duty to help those in need around us.”


Manizha Murodbekova is a graduate of Media & Communications at the University of Central Asia (Naryn campus), and received the all-round leadership award and outstanding community service award at its recent convocation. She currently serves as an Intern with The Ismaili.