August 9, 2021, by Lee Mei Kee
Valedictorian Speech: School of Pharmacy Class of 2021
On 4th August 2021, we held our Graduation Function and Awards Ceremony, which for the second year running has been held online. Hana Sadida Qaulan, the School of Pharmacy Class Representative 2020/2021, gave a virtual valedictorian speech that shines light on the struggles and extraordinary effort of class of 2021 to cope with the challenge during COVID-19 pandemic. Best wishes to Class of 2021 in their new beginning and continued success!
“Esteemed members of the faculty, distinguished guests, parents, friends and my fellow graduates,
My name is Hana Sadida and I am so honoured to be here, representing the School of Pharmacy today to celebrate the last three years.
Before I start my speech, I’d like to thank people who have made this day possible.
Firstly, I would like to thank my parents for their continuous support in my journey pursuing this degree, be it mentally, physically and financially. Everything that I am and will be are the products of their hard-work, love, and prayers. I am thankful to them for instilling the sheer value of education in me, and for taking me further than they ever did.
I would also like to thank my friends for sticking together through the ups and downs. A special shout out to my ally, Abid, for all his feedback throughout my academic journey, and for constantly pushing me towards the finish line. I hope that I have done the same for you.
Last but not least, I’d like to thank all members of the school; lecturers, supervisors and lab assistant. Without your guidance and advice, we wouldn’t be here today.
Reflecting back on the last three years, I realise how quickly time has passed. It feels like it was only yesterday when I got to meet all of you for the very first time, all those wide-eyed faces eager to learn. I remember clearly when I had aimed to get 90% in all of modules, because in my mind, 70% must be so easy to get, right? Well, reality hits, and I realised that our journey wasn’t going to be as easy.
I came here alone travelling 5,895 km away from home, worried about the friends I will make. But I’m proud to say that I am leaving with friends that I will cherish forever. In such a short time, we were able to create such strong friendships, going through challenge after challenge. I will always treasure those times when we rushed to get lunch while our gel was running, getting vegan ice creams in between lectures, or the tiring 7 hours lab a week made even longer when our samples produced blank lanes.
Class of 2021,
When we first started, none of us knew that we were going to spend half of it online, physically away from campus, friends, and university experiences. From the very first day of university, I know all of you had envisioned yourself in graduation robe and cap, celebrating with our loved ones and taking billions of pictures on this day. I apologise that the end of our degree felt anticlimactic, that we finished our last exam in our respective rooms at 6:30 pm on a random Thursday, instead of celebrating it with each other.
When the pandemic initially started in our second year, it hit me like a brick, and I am sure I speak for most of you here in the audience that the transition was brutal. Staying motivated when the world around you was in chaos was hard. Not to mention the lack of social interaction, being cooped up in your house all day, and having to adjust to online classes. Personally, I was struggling to keep up. Being away from family and all of the stress got the better of me, and my grades took a toll. I was heartbroken when I found out that I didn’t get to keep the scholarship because it meant that my family had to sacrifice more for my education. I have to thank my friends and family for the mental support during that time.
But gradually, we adapted. We got better. We found ways to stay sane. And here we are today. This graduation marks the fact that we got through all of it. The highs and the lows. Those days when you wanted to give up but persevered. Your degree certificate is more than an expensive piece of paper- it represents all of the struggles, obstacles and human experiences that you went through, whatever it may be. It represents the everlasting friendships that we have been made. And I’m so proud of us for making it here today. Because of it, we are the graduates who know how to persevere and adapt to the changing times. In other words, we have become stronger.
While I am sad that things did not go as expected, I have full confidence that all of the crazy things that we faced in the last 1.5 years have prepared us for uncertainties in the future. No matter where life takes us next, I am confident that we will be able to use the things we learned from this degree for the betterment of the society. Though we may go separate ways, we will make an impact on this world, in different but unique ways.
My fellow graduates,
I’d like to end my speech with a quote by Steve Jobs that I’ve hold on dearly ever since high school. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So have faith that the dots will somehow connect in the future.”
As we enter the next stage of our lives, the future might seem unpredictable. There will be new obstacles that we have to face and frankly, things may not make sense right now. But keep going. Because there will be a time when you can look back to this exact moment, and understand why things had to happen the way it did.
Congratulations, class of 2021. Onto the real world we go!
Valedictorian Speech by Hana Sadida Qaulan who graduated with BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences in August 2021.