Pictures courtesy of Alberto Vargas @ City Tech


Valedictorian Speech 2009


Ayesha Siddiqui


I would like to welcome, the president of New York City College of Technology (City Tech) Dr. Russell Hotzler; Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs of City Tech, Dr. Bonne August; Comptroller of the New York State, Honorable Thomas P. DiNapoli; distinguished guests and faculty members, students, family, friends, fellow graduates.


Today is a glorious day. We all have gathered here to commemorate a vital milestone in our lives. It is a great honor for me to deliver my valedictory address to the graduating class of New York City College of Technology on this first day of June 2009. 


Today, our dream of becoming graduates has come true. We worked hard and our continuous dedication has finally made it possible. This magnificent accomplishment would not be possible without the blessings of our supreme creator, the support of our family and friends, and the encouragement of our City Tech professors, faculty, and administrators.


My fellow graduates, I came to this country with a dream of becoming a successful woman with my own identity. Like many of you, I was unsure about my future. I faced what seemed at the time impossible milestones to overcome. For instance, I started my academic career after a long interval of nine years. I was challenged by the circumstance of a new country, a new educational system, a new culture, and above all, a new family situation. I had two young children at home, all the daily household duties of cooking and cleaning, and a husband who worked seven days a week. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to balance my educational and family responsibilities. My dream seemed unapproachable and distant.


I stand before you today, telling you that dreams do come true.  The journey from start to finish was a roller coaster ride, but it was ride worth taking it. I remember how nervous I felt the first time I stepped into a classroom. The people around me were much younger than I. They had advanced technical skills. The graphic design terminology itself was a challenge for me to understand. But I received tremendous support from my family; no matter how near or far away they lived. They fueled my spirit and helped me keep moving. My husband and children were always by my side. Today I stand before you as a proud mother and a wife, a daughter, a daughter in-law, a sister, and a college graduate.


I believe the key to my success is effective communication, responsibility, and respect. So dear graduates! please communicate effectively. You will need to in the real world. Be proud of yourself and your degree but also be open to knowledge and wisdom. Life is a learning process. The respect I had for everyone around me, for their individuality and diversity helped me learn. I have learned from interactions with professors and fellow students. Working in group projects enabled me to develop patience and understanding, and leading the group projects developed my leadership skills.


My fellow graduates, life does not always go as planned. It takes unexpected and sometimes dreadful turns. We have to be ready to meet the challenges with courage and strength. In November of 2008, just four weeks before final exams, my beloved father suddenly passed away. It was the greatest loss of my life. I felt like giving up, but my father’s greatest wish was seeing me succeed in life. I found strength in his dream and I pulled myself together and I finished my semester with a perfect 4.0 GPA.


Many of you have faced similar hardships; many of you will face them in the future. I stand here today, telling you not to give up, but instead find your strength from your weakness and your gain from your loss.


My fellow graduates, in this time of economic hardships, life will not be easy. But I firmly believe that with hard work, with dedication, and with the knowledge and skills we have acquired, we can overcome every obstacle and reach our personal and professional goals. The world is changing, and a good education is the key to life’s success. In fact, President Obama said, and I quote, “In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite.”


Dear graduates! remember that the whole world is watching us:  Together, with high standards in education, hard work, strong values, tolerance for difference, and effective communication we can lead this world out of a recession, and lead toward serenity and harmony. Now is the time to bridge the gap between different faiths, cultures, and nationalities around the world. Now is the time to work for global peace. Now is the time to work for all of humanity rather than a fraction, so that our future generations will live prosperous and tranquil lives.


The teachings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) help us understand the issues of equal opportunity this great country has struggled to provide for its citizens. 1400 years ago, in his last sermon at Mt. Arafat, he said, and I quote, “O’ people! An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor has a non-Arab any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor does a black have any superiority over a white – except by piety and good action.”


His words resonate in the words of President Obama. Barack Obama’s experience as the first African American president in the history of United States and my experience as the first Muslim female Pakistani valedictorian in the history of City Tech has strengthened my belief that regardless of our religious beliefs, gender, race or ethnicity, what really matters is that we are all Americans that we stand together as a whole nation and that we are proud to be citizens of this country.


Today, as we graduate and begin our  new lives, I ask you to be proud of yourself and believe in yourself. Today is the day  to keep your spirits high. Remember the sky is the limit. Today is the day to dream big and prove that we, City Tech graduates, are second to none. Today is the day to take up the challenges and face them boldly. Today is the day  to plan our future, for this degree is a milestone not a destiny.


Dear fellow graduates, let me take this opportunity to congratulate all of you for a job well done. And also on your behalf, I want to pay gratitude to President Holtzer, for presiding over City Tech and improving the standards of the college, all of our faculty members and staff at City Tech, for working hard with us and guiding us every step of the way; and our beloved family and friends, for continuously supporting us.  Our graduation would not possible without your constant backing and encouragement.


May God bless us all and May God bless the United States of America!

Thank you.










One Response to “FACES”

  1. […] In her speech, Ms. Siddiqui encouraged fellow graduates to work hard despite all odds.  The future generation will live a prosperous and tranquil life when works on humanity and global peace take priority.  She cited the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on equality, because in God’s eyes people are equal regardless of race or skin color: […]

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