On 20th May, Asian University for Women celebrated its fifth commencement, graduating 85 young women from 15 different countries with degrees of Bachelors of Arts or Bachelors of Science.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Nirmala Rao, welcomed the graduates, their families and sponsors. She reiterated the aims and aspirations of AUW and ways in which the University was safeguarding its tradition of educating talented young women from remote and diverse communities.
In congratulating the graduating class, the Chancellor, Mrs Cherie Blair, spoke of the new and exciting developments at AUW, including programs that gave access to young women from garments factories in Bangladesh as well as women from the Rohingya community.
Dr Dipu Moni, Chair of the Board of Trustees and former Bangladesh Foreign Minister,highlighted the importance of AUW graduates going out into the world as change makers. She called for celebrating the diversity of the graduating class and reaffirmed the mission and values of AUW to educate compassionate and courageous young women for a life of leadership and service.
Distinguished commencement speakers included the First Lady of Afghanistan and the Honorable Mrs Anson Chan, former Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Honorary Degrees were conferred upon Mrs Chan and Her Excellency RulaGhani, together with Ms Leigh Morgan, Professor Daniel Allen, Professor in the Government Department at Harvard University.
AUW alumnae successfully go on to a wide variety of careers and graduate programs. They work in non-profit organizations, in the commercial or private sector in their home countries and around the globe at organizations including Ford, Unilever, Chevron, and H&M.
Many are involved in teaching and research, while a good number of graduates are working in the government of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. In general, at least 80% of each AUW class opt to work in their home countries, and many return there to work after completing graduate studies abroad.
With over 450 alumnae spread across Asia and the Middle East, AUW continues to increase its accessibility and reach young women from the most under-served regions. In 2016, The University implemented a new program called Pathways for Promise, which offers an English-language intensive curriculum that prepares students to enter the Access Academy, a pre-collegiate year that focuses on leadership, English, and critical thinking skills, through courses in World History, mathematics, and computer science.
While Pathways focuses primarily on recruiting remarkable young women from Bangladeshi garments factories and refugee communities, the program is open to any young woman who demonstrates the qualities and spark of an AUW student but has had limited access to high-quality English language education. Pathways allows AUW to recruit from the farthest and most remote corners of Asia and the Middle East.