There was palpable excitement at the Kairaba Beach Hotel last Friday with a total of 54 nurses with specialisation in various disciplines including anesthesia, midwifery, and psychiatry, graduated from the 2016 Class of the American International University West Africa (AIUWA).
The hall was full of excitement as academics, parents, families and friends took their seats cheering and rejoicing with their loved ones in gowns for their successful completion of a maximum four-year rigorous medical training.
This is the university’s second graduation ceremony. In July last year, a total of sixty-four medical students, consisting of Gambians and other nationalities graduated from the university after the successful completion of their degree programmes in different medical fields.
The American International University West Africa started operations as the first medical university in The Gambia in 2011 after signing an agreement with the government in 2010. The University consists of 6 colleges in 3 campuses. A permanent campus being built at Kanifing Institutional Area is scheduled to be completed in few months.
The minister of Health Hon. Omar Sey gave an inspiring statement at the ceremony in which he reminded the graduates that completing their courses marks the end of the one phase in their professional career and the beginning of a new one.
Minister Sey underlined AIUWA’s contribution to The Gambia in educating and training Gambian nurses on full scholarship provided by the university itself. “I take this opportunity to thank AIUWA for their support in providing full scholarships to Gambians. I hope this institution grows more so that more Gambians can access scholarships. One of the major challenges in the health sector is capacity building of qualified and trained personnel,” he said.
He expressed hope that with the education and training the graduates acquired during their studies, they will always be able to apply themselves professionally, saying “today is your moment so you must all seize it together.”
He thanked the Gambian leader for his leadership, maintaining that to keep up with the population growth, with combating diseases like Ebola and the Zika virus, the challenges are enormous.
The Health minister reminded the graduates that they have worked hard with focus, determination and discipline to successfully complete their courses.
Dr Dinesh Shukla, President of AIUWA called on the graduates to always honour and respect their profession, saying nursing is today one of the highest respected professions in the world. “It is our desired goal to set up The Gambia as a hub for education.”
He thanked the government for providing the enabling environment for them to set up the university in The Gambia, saying what makes a university shine is its students and lecturers. He also thanked the Ministry of Higher Education for their unflinching and invaluable support.
Alasana Darboe, registrar at The Gambia Nursing Council reminded the graduates that once they are in the nursing profession they must abide by the law at all times.
Mr Darboe also reminded them that to become recognised nurses in the country, they must register with the Nursing Council, failure of which would contradict the Nursing and Midwives Act. “It is that licence that would permit you to operate,” he said.
In her valedictory statement, Amarachi Madueke said graduation is one of the comfort moments of a student’s life, saying as graduates they now owe it to Allah, their lecturers, parents and the people to serve humanity with dignity and respect. “We must be tomorrow’s positive images. We should never be discouraged because it is our light not our darkness that frightens us the most,” she concluded.
by Amadou Jallow