In recognition of her dedication and significant contributions to the community in education and welfare assistance, Datin Paduka Sister Enda Ryan F.M.M was conferred the Honorary Doctorate in Humanities by Taylor’s University at the institution’s 21st convocation ceremony.

Chancellor of Taylor’s University conferring the Honorary Doctorate in Humanities to Sister Enda Ryan.

Sister Enda is the acclaimed foundress and headmistress of Assunta all-girls schools in Petaling Jaya. Her passion and dedication in service and giving through education and charities dates to her arrival in Malaya back in 1955.

Taylor’s University Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer shared that Sister Enda Ryan has made significant contributions throughout her lifetime – from championing women’s education to assisting in the growth of Ave Maria Clinic with her Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (F.M.M) sisters, which has expanded to Assunta Hospital today.

[L-R] Academician Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Syed Jalaludin Syed Salim, Chancellor of Taylor’s University, Sister Enda Ryan, Professor Dr. Pradeep Nair, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of Taylor’s University, and Prof Michael Driscoll, Vice-Chancellor and President of Taylor’s University. 

“Education matters simply because it ensures every child a fair chance of a successful and thriving life. Education ingrain civic and social responsibility amongst everyone – an essential aspect of human development specially to achieve world peace, justice, freedom and equality. As the foundress of Assunta Primary and Secondary schools, Sister Enda has contributed significantly to the development of Malaysia’s education services and teaching profession. For over 60 years, she has nurtured a lineage of schoolgirls who, emboldened by her inspiration and values, have gone on to be leaders themselves, captains of industry and humanitarians,” remarked Professor Pradeep in his citation speech.

From a humble beginning of three classes, the Assunta schools’ legacy grew in size and in status as it joined the ranks of Grade A schools in Malaysia under her care as the headmistress for over 30 years. Her contributions to women’s education in Malaysia saw her receiving various prestigious awards including the Excellent Service Award from the Ministry of Education in 1985; the Pingat Jasa Kebaktian in 1987; the Anugerah Tokoh Guru Besar Selangor in 1990 and in 2007, the Darjah Kebesaran Dato Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah by the Sultan of Selangor which carries the title ‘Datin Paduka’.

Sister Enda Ryan inspiring the graduates with her acceptance speech.

In her acceptance speech, Sister Enda said that having an honorary doctorate degree conferred to her is tremendously humbling. “After serving in Malaysia for 67 years, I graciously and humbly accept this special honour. As the Chinese proverb wisely points out “Teachers open doors, but you must enter by yourself”. Opening the door was my business, but whether Assuntarians wanted to enter was their business. My concern was not with where our students will end up, how many A’s they will get and subsequently how many degrees and accolades they will accumulate. Rather, it was about what they will become and seek to be – to value what one has and not what others have and do, and always emphasising heart-over-head.”

Assunta Secondary School has produced many illustrious women – from humanitarian heroes and politicians to bankers and entertainers including Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood, medical professional and foundress of medical charity MERCY Malaysia; Dato’ Dr Hartini Zainudin, prominent activist and foundress of Yayasan Chow Kit; Tan Sri Datin Paduka Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, ex-Bank Negara governor; Nurul Izzah Anwar, Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh; Sunetra Fernando, Malaysian composer, musician and teacher; and Datin Sofea Jane Hisham, well-known Malaysian actress.

Sister Enda Ryan with her beloved Assuntarians.

The conferment of the award was presided by Academician Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Syed Jalaludin Syed Salim, Chancellor of Taylor’s University. The Honorary Doctorate Award is Taylor’s University’s form of recognition for renowned individuals that have attained national and international success and recognition in their field.