Jimmy siyasa



Triumph Over Adversity: Mathias Praise Rindi’s Inspirational Journey to Graduation

By Irene Best Nyapendi
In the face of daunting challenges, Mathias Praise Rindi, a 26-year-old graduate, has emerged victorious, achieving a significant breakthrough in his life – graduation from Uganda Christian University (UCU). His path to success was marked by numerous trials, including financial constraints and exchange rate fluctuations from his home country, Nigeria. But Rindi’s unwavering determination and the unwavering support of his loved ones proved to be the pillars of strength that carried him through the storm.

Rindi’s pursuit of higher education led him to join UCU in 2018 through the University’s bridging program, a mandatory stepping stone for all international students. This program set the stage for him to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in 2019, igniting the spark of his academic journey.

The Graduate of UCU’s Crucible of Financial Constraints

In December 2021, Rindi faced a formidable challenge – financial constraints compounded by the impact of fluctuating exchange rates from Nigeria. The strain resulted in him being unable to write his final year first semester examination, putting his graduation dreams on hold. “My mother sent me the full tuition of about 4.5 million for my full tuition, but due to the high exchange rates, I only received 2.5 million, which was only half of the required tuition,” Rindi shared with a heavy heart.
The Power of Unwavering Support
Amidst the darkness, Rindi found a glimmer of hope in the form of his family’s unending support. Despite facing a challenging time, he drew strength from the belief and sacrifices his mother, siblings, and loved ones made for him. Reflecting on his mother’s resilience, Rindi expressed his deep gratitude, “I will forever be grateful for my mother’s unwavering support.
When my father passed away in 2007, people advised her to take us to the village, but she vowed to do her best to ensure we received the best education.”
Fueled by Determination
Refusing to be defined by his circumstances, Rindi channeled his energy into finding solutions.
Despite the financial hardships and moments of depression, he remained resilient and kept his eyes firmly on the goal of graduating. With determination, hard work, and the unyielding support of his loved ones, Rindi eventually triumphed over adversity and achieved his dream of graduating from UCU.

Rindi graduated with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.65 out of 5.0.

A Degree That Represents Growth and Strength
For Rindi, his degree is more than just a piece of paper; it symbolizes personal growth, resilience, and strength developed throughout his journey. “As I step into this new chapter of my life, I look back with gratitude for the valuable lessons this experience has taught me. The journey has molded me into a stronger, more determined individual, ready to face whatever the future holds,” Rindi humbly expressed.

A Grateful Heart and a Promising Future

With his graduation on the 28th of July at UCU, Rindi acknowledges the pivotal role his family played in his success. “I want to express my deepest gratitude to my mother, my siblings, and my loved ones for being my unwavering support system. Without their belief in me and their sacrifices, I wouldn’t have reached this significant milestone. Their love and encouragement have been the driving force behind my success, and I promise to make them proud in all that I do,” Rindi gratefully shared.
A Message of Hope and Encouragement
As Rindi looks ahead to the future, he offers a heartfelt piece of advice to those facing similar trials: “Keep moving and never lose hope. Lean on your loved ones, believe in your ability to overcome, and you will emerge stronger on the other side.”
A Legacy of Faith and Excellence
When asked how UCU has impacted him, Rindi confidently replied, “I can proudly and confidently say I am the sharpened iron from this gallant university, fully refined and embedded with Christ-centeredness, integrity, diligence, stewardship, and servant hood.”

Embracing Cultural Heritage

Hailing from the Mupun tribe in Plateau State, Nigeria, Rindi carries his cultural heritage with pride and grace. He stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration to all who face challenges in their educational pursuits.
As Mathias Praise Rindi steps into this new phase of life, his journey serves as a testament to the power of determination, the strength of family support, and the promise of a bright future. We wish him success in all his endeavors and look forward to witnessing the positive impact he will undoubtedly make on the world.


UCU alum continues academic marks at Japan university

By Pauline Luba
“A name is so important. A surname connects you to your past, to your family.” This quote is attributed to Canadian author Kelley Armstrong. 

The life of UCU Alumna Joyce Nakayenga

The life of Joyce Nakayenga, a new recipient of a PhD in engineering, is aligned with the writer’s assertion. Named after her paternal grandmother, Nakayenga grew up knowing that she had to uphold that matriarch’s legacy of hard work and overcoming challenges. Nakayenga’s grandmother struggled to educate her children despite having so little. 

When Nakayenga was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering – Civil and Environmental Engineering from Hiroshima University in Japan on March 23, 2023, and as other members of her family as well as friends looked on, her grandmother’s spirit was ever present. With the degree, the 31-year-old also won three prestigious university awards.  Her research earned her the Best Presentation Researcher, Academic Encouragement Award and the 2022 Hiroshima Excellent Student Award.

For many who know Nakayenga’s academic ability, the latest attainment likely isn’t surprising. In 2015, she was not only a recipient of a First-Class degree in Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Uganda Christian University (UCU), but also had the best marks in her class. For that feat, she earned an academic excellence award at UCU. Consequently, UCU’s Department of Engineering and Environment hired Nakayenga as a tutorial assistant for one year.

“I have always wanted to be an engineer,” Nakayenga told Uganda Partners. “I wanted a profession that showed where I could visibly see the fruits of my work thereafter.”

UCU’s location within her home district – Mukono – and its deep roots in Christianity were a good fit for Nakayenga’s higher education choice.

Nakayenga notes that the UCU community, including its lecturers, were instrumental in ensuring concentration in books, overall performance and continued learning. For instance, a former lecturer at UCU brought her attention to the existence of the Mext scholarship to study at Hiroshima. Nakayenga enrolled for a master’s at the university in 2017 and the scholarship was extended to doctorate studies because she had passed the first post-graduate hurdle with flying colors. 

Nakayenga describes herself as someone “keen on promoting sustainable societal development, especially for developing countries, through innovative engineering solutions.” Her PhD research, under the topic “The re-use of stone quarry waste (i.e granite and limestone powder) to improve the properties of weak clay soils,” gives her the competence to be able to develop “sturdy infrastructure that will stand the test of time and natural disasters.” The research focused on how to make naturally weak clay soil strong, by using stone powder. 

Nakayenga is the fifth born of six children of Dr. Wilson Mubiru and Specioza Nabatanzi Mubiru. Nakayenga’s family had to use resources sparingly, having at one time been an extended family of up to 18 members living under one roof.  Her parents, now retired, were public servants. Wilson was the officer in charge of health in central Uganda’s Mubende district while Specioza served as an education officer in the same district.

Nakayenga attended Mubende Parents School for her primary education and Nabisunsa Girls School for her secondary education before joining UCU. Nakayenga balanced academics and student leadership roles at every school she attended. At Mubende Parents School, she was the assistant head prefect. At UCU she represented her faculty in the UCU students’ parliament. At Hiroshima University, from 2017 to 2018, Nakayenga was the university’s Study Abroad Ambassador, where she sensitized students on the benefits of studying in the Hiroshima Prefecture (municipality). 

For now, she will remain in Hiroshima, where the university has employed her as a postdoctoral researcher in the geotechnical laboratory of Hiroshima University.

When Linda Nanfuka from UCU got an offer to work in Uzbekistan, she had to Google it. “I couldn’t pronounce it, didn’t know where it was,” she said of the Central Asian nation located 5,499 kilometers (3,411 miles) from Uganda. For nine months in 2021, Nanfuka lived and worked as an engineer for what is now Uzbekistan’s first large-scale solar power plant.

Engineering alum breaks gender, age barriers

By Patty Huston-Holm
When Linda Nanfuka got an offer to work in Uzbekistan, she had to Google it. 

“I couldn’t pronounce it, didn’t know where it was,” she said of the Central Asian nation located 5,499 kilometers (3,411 miles) from Uganda. For nine months in 2021, Nanfuka lived and worked as an engineer for what is now Uzbekistan’s first large-scale solar power plant. Most of what she did was civil works (construction supervision, reporting) for METKA EGN, a  company that focuses on green-energy networks. 

UCU alum recruited to work in Uzbekistan

A Uganda Christian University (UCU) alum, Nanfuka got recruited to live and work in Uzbekistan based on her leadership in helping to launch a solar station on land leased from the Busoga Kingdom in Uganda’s Mayuge District.  The Mayuge-area plant, also called Bufulubi because of its location in a village by that name, increases the power supply for the eastern region. It generates 10 MegaWatts (MW) compared to Uzbekistan’s 131 MW capacity. 

Nanfuka knows that each MW is one million watts, that individual homes require a lot less than that and factories need more. As a 2018 UCU graduate in Civil and Environmental Engineering, she learned much of the technical aspects of what she applies in her work. 

She also knows that she is employed in a career path traditionally dominated by men and people older than her almost-28 years.  She has encountered skepticism and bullying as well as respect.

Linda Nanfuka at Uganda’s Mayuge solar plant
Linda Nanfuka at Uganda’s Mayuge solar plant

“In the African culture, we need to respect elders, and I do,” she said. “If someone 20 years older than you is wrong, you don’t disrespect but correct.” 

Nanfuka appreciates professionals at UCU

At the same time, Nanfuka credits older peers and professionals at UCU for mentoring, including during one “rough period” of her academic studies. She said Rodgers Tayebwa, head of department, engineering and environment, was especially helpful, “introducing me to students in the year ahead” and enabling her to have “balance and get back on track.”

For Nanfuka, the journey before and since graduating from UCU has required changing course and dispelling age and gender perceptions. The oldest of four children with a single mom living in Mukono, Nanfuka was expected to go into accounting to support herself and help her siblings.  She was told that engineering was too difficult and meant for men.

“One person close to me kept saying ‘no’ to engineering,” she said. “Today, I thank  God for those who doubted me, who dared me not to succeed, because I’m really happy with what I chose.”

Solar Energy chose her

As for solar energy, it chose her. While leading a Just in Time subcontracting team of 30-40 men who put a fence around what would be rows of solar panels in the Mayuge District, Nanfuka began spending her spare time in 2018 to mid-2019 learning about this growing, clean energy option.  From mid-2019, she transitioned into operational maintenance that she was part of until 2021. 

“I monitored the civil works – concrete pole installation and chain-link fencing,” Nanfuka said of the work in Mayuge.  “I went to the main contractor, expressed an interest in the larger project and was permitted on the site to learn from other contractors after my other work for the day was done.”

In 2020, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics estimated that 38 percent of the population used solar energy in some form from some 300 solar companies. The Soroti solar power plant is Uganda’s first grid-connected solar plant and the largest in East Africa. According to the Uganda Electricity Regulatory Authority, the Mayuge plant has the capacity to produce enough power for 30,000 households. 

When the fence around the Mayuge plant was in place, Nanfuka was made a junior civil engineer for METKA EGN. 

“God blesses us with sun,” she said.  “We should use it and protect the environment. I’m happy that our  country is having more of these projects that not only respect the earth but expand employment.”

In addition to applying her engineering technical and management skills, Nanfuka found enrichment in being embedded into the Uzbekistan culture from May to December in 2021. The project called 131 MW Tutly Solar PV Plant had non-English-speaking workers that presented an added challenge in communications to complete tasks. She learned safety requirements, the latter of which is stricter than in Uganda.  She learned that people from different races, religions and ethnicities can work together. Uzbekistan, which is near the better-known Afghanistan and Iran countries, is largely Muslim with few black-skinned people. 

“Many had never seen a black woman before,” she said. “The kids especially wanted to touch my hair.”

Speaking from Mukono in late July, Nanfuka shared that her next two aspirations are growing her own business while working on a master’s degree in construction management. 

“I’ve realized that what people really need here is help with planning and scheduling – project management,” she said. “I am grateful for people who took a chance on me, and had faith in me.  I did my best not to disappoint.” 

Nanfuka’s new business Web site is https://www.lindasvirtualhub.com.


UCU medicine & dentistry graduates vow to uphold the sanctity of human life

By Irene Best Nyapendi
As the sun arose on July 28, a joyous atmosphere settled over Uganda Christian University
(UCU) as it celebrated its 24th graduation at Mukono Campus. Among the 1006 graduates that
were celebrated, 56% were females. Of the 29 First Class students registered, 18 of them
were female and only 11 were male. And seven of them topped the list leaving the best male
on the 8th position.
The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu acknowledged that this day is significant as
they witness the graduation of the 44 pioneer students of Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of
Dentistry and 9 of Bachelor of Dental Surgery.
He noted that this is a landmark achievement for UCU as it marks a significant step forward in
its pursuit of excellence in healthcare education. “I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the graduates who have successfully completed their program in these disciplines your determination and commitment,” Kaziimba said.
With great joy, he said the pioneer students have paved the way for future generations of
medical and dental professionals who will go on to make a profound impact on the health of
this nation.
Kaziimba also announced the expansion of UCU’s facilities, upgraded laboratories which have
enhanced the university’s technological infrastructure to enable learners excel in their
academic pursuit.
“I am proud to say that UCU has achieved remarkable progress in infrastructure development
across our various colleges and campuses this investment has created a conducive learning
environment. We will continue to strive for excellence and further enhance our standing
among the top universities in the world,” he said.
He urged the graduands to continue embracing the UCU core values of integrity, servant
hood, Christ- centeredness, stewardship and diligence as they go forth and make positive
impact in the world.
“May you continue to embrace the values of integrity, servant hood, Christ centeredness,
stewardship, diligence and integrity. Put your faith in Jesus Christ as your savior and mentor
as you pursue your career, keeping in mind that the thing behind the thing is the real thing
and the thing is Jesus Christ,” he said.
UCU Vice Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, commended the UCU School of
Dentistry, Medicine and Dental Surgery for harking back to the pioneering spirit of the Church
of Uganda that laid the foundation for medical education in the country in 1877.
“This is exciting news for us as we send out our first crop of doctors, dentists and surgeons in
the medical field. Unlike some doctors in the country known for engaging in strikes, these
UCU graduates have vowed to uphold the sanctity of human life,” Mushengyezi said.
Mushegyenzi extended special recognition to the partners who played a pivotal role in shaping
the future of these aspiring doctors and dentists.

Among them are; Dr. Edward Kanyesigye for the great work he did as the pioneer Dean, Dr.
Rose Mutumba the Director of Mengo Hospital together with her team of administrators and
specialists who supported the school. Uganda Partners (USA) for mobilizing funds and
equipment’s for both schools, the former UCU Council ad Administration for the vision.
Together with the current Deans; Dr. Gerald Tumusiime and Dr. James Magara for nurturing
these schools into formidable centers of excellence. He encouraged the graduates to put to use the knowledge, skills, competencies, attitudes,
and values they have acquired at UCU.

Major successes from the university colleges, faculties and schools

Mushengyezi unveiled the recent major successes from the university colleges, faculties and schools. These included:

  • UCU was this year ranked third best university in Uganda by UniRank
  • School of Journalism, Media and Communication is part of a consortium of 6 African universities that are implementing a project worth 3.3 Billion funded by the European Commission. The project is focusing on building capacity for reporting migration and mobility across boarders in Sub- Saharan Africa.
  • School of Education in partnership with Edify trained 600 Head Teachers and school proprietors in areas of competence-based curriculum development, financial literacy, customer care and integration of ICT in education from at least 10 districts of Uganda.
  • 20 UCU School of Law alumni graduated at the Law Development Center (LDC) with First Class degrees. Of these, 10 appeared on the Director’s List. The overall best performing student was a UCU alumnus, Emmanuel Okia. Still, the top four First Class LDC graduates were all from UCU: Emmanuel Okia, Shamira Kitimbo, Reagan Ahumuza and Jemimah Jehopio.
  • The Department of Engineering and Environment in collaboration with Aksaray University in Turkey obtained an Erasmus+ grant of Euro 15,600 to support student and staff mobility for three years.
  • UCU sports teams have maintained stellar permanent in various games. It won 20 medals: 8 Gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze.
  • Ongoing fundraising campaign for Arua campus plans to construct an academic building, the
  • Bishop Orombi ICT Complex to house several facilities including the campus innovation hub, e learning center, lecture rooms and conference hall.

The ceremony was graced by the presence of Rt. Rev. Dr. Dunstan Kopoliano Bukenya, Former University Secretary UCU and retired Bishop of Mityana Diocese.

In his address, he lauded the extraordinary achievements of the university and acknowledged its landmark in the School of Medicine, Dentistry and dental surgery. “I am happy to see that our original vision has come true and continued to shine with added vigour to A Centre of Excellence in the Heart of Africa now with a population of over 12,000 students, 7 Schools and 4 Faculties,” Bukenya said.

About Yohana Eyob Ghebrekristos, the overall best student

Yohana Eyob Ghebrekristos is one of the 44 pioneer students of Bachelor of Medicine and
Bachelor of Surgery. She emerged as the overall best student, best female student and also
the best science student with a CGPA of 4.71.
Since arriving in Uganda in 2018, Yohana considered herself fortunate to be admitted to UCU.
Reflecting on her UCU experience, she shared, that she has enjoyed the privilege of being
taught by highly trained professionals.
“I’m so excited and extremely honored to be the best performing student. UCU has been
amazing and I was very fortunate to join this esteemed institution. It’s reputation of
producing well-rounded professionals really attracted me to UCU.” Yohana said with sheer
She appreciates the University for equipping her with both academic knowledge and spiritual
values that she believes will guide her as she ventures into the working world.
Looking ahead, Yohana aspires to specialize in orthodontics and dental surgery, with hope of
opening up a dental clinic to serve underprivileged in communities.
To her fellow students in the medical field, Yohana offered valuable advice, emphasizing that
the medical profession requires unwavering hard work, determination, and sacrifice.
“Don’t underestimate the course; it’s a journey that demands your best effort. And in the end,
the rewards will be worth it,” she urged.
As Yohana eagerly awaits her internship, her father, Eyob Ghebrekristos, expressed
immeasurable joy and excitement upon her accomplishment.
“We are so excited and proud of Yohana, and we all came from the United States to be here
and celebrate Yohana’s graduation,” he said a beaming smile.
He believes this was possible because of Yohana’s nature of hard work and discipline together
with the support from family.

Wilson Wanyama, best Arts student

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Wilson Wanyama, best male student

Wilson Wanyama of Bachelor of Development and Social Entrepreneurship emerged as the best male student and also best arts student with a CGPA of 4.64.
Wanyama notes that 2020 brought unique challenges, as the pandemic disrupted in-person learning. However, Wanyama appreciates the university administration for immediately adapting to the online learning mode, continuing their pursuit of knowledge despite the
physical distance.
“I’m so excited that I’m graduating from UCU, the center of excellence in the heart of Africa.
UCU has prepared me well to develop my career and interact with all sorts of people in the
field,” Wanyama said.
He noted that the university’s core values, particularly diligence and Christ-centeredness,
have become integral to his character, guiding him in his future endeavors.
One of the challenges Wanyama faced during his university life was the frequent movement
from Kampala to Mukono for classes.
Despite the distance, he displayed remarkable dedication by never missing a single lecture or
arriving late to any class. His commitment to punctuality and discipline earned him
recognition as the best in his class consistently.

Wanyama attributes his victory to God, family and friends recognizing divine guidance in his
academic journey.
“God enabled me be the best in my class, from the first year to the final year, and I also don’t
remember ever falling sick” he acknowledged.
The chairperson of the University Council, Rt. Rev. Prof. Alfred Olwa congratulated and
inspired the graduates as they move on to the next phase of their lives.
“My brothers and sisters as you go out of UCU to start a new life and a new career I would like
to remind you that your life and service is not about you but is about him who created, do not
be preoccupied with other people’s opinions, worrying about pleasing everyone but rather
have a sense for what God wants to say to you in the situations that you go through,” Olwa

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Shown here are some of UCU’s 1006 graduates

He assured the graduates of God’s blessing upon them in the different roles they will be in for a season and for a reason.
The 1006 students graduating with diploma, degrees and Masters came from disciplines that include: Law, Journalism, Computer Science, Education, Engineering, Industrial and Fine Art, Public Health, Nursing and Midwifery.

UCU School of Medicine First Graduating Class: Empowering future doctors

By Irene Best Nyapendi and Jimmy Siyasa
In July 2023, Uganda Christian University (UCU) graduates 45 pioneer students of its School of Medicine. The graduates are the first batch of exceptional doctors – with many more to come, marking a milestone since the establishment of the School of Medicine in 2018. 

How UCU’s School of Medicine collaborations benefits its students

To forge the best doctors, UCU’s School of Medicine has proactively forged partnerships with institutions such as Mulago National Referral Hospital, Mengo Hospital, Mukono Church of Uganda Hospital and Uganda Cancer Institute. These collaborations ensure that students receive comprehensive and high-quality training throughout their five-year program.

Under the guidance of Dr. Gerald Tumusiime, Dean of the School of Medicine, students are strategically placed in different healthcare facilities at various stages of their training. This approach aims to provide them with diverse clinical exposure and the opportunity to learn from specialists in different settings. 

“By moving to different health facilities, they get more skills from different specialists and exposure so that they may make informed choices with their career paths,” Dr. Tumusiime said.  

Beginning from their first and second years, students gain valuable clinical experience at Mengo and Mukono Church of Uganda hospitals. As they progress to their third and fourth years, they undertake extensive clinical practice at Mengo Hospital. In their fourth year, students have the privilege of training at the Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care Africa, Mulago Hospital and Uganda Cancer Institute.

Beyond the clinical aspects, the School of Medicine emphasizes the importance of holistic development. Students participate in mandatory community engagement programs, aligning with the philosophy of reaching out to the sick. This approach cultivates character and instills empathy in future doctors. Furthermore, the school’s collaboration with organizations such as Noah’s Ark Ministries, a Christian entity, offers students opportunities to integrate their faith into their medical practice. Noah’s Ark integrates the student doctors in their medical center and schedules outreaches to communities for clinical screenings and immunizations. 

Dr. Tumusiime believes that this holistic approach sets UCU students apart, making them not only highly skilled professionals, but also compassionate caregivers. Through their training, these students learn to prioritize patient well-being and exhibit genuine care for those they serve.

“Interactions with other Christian doctors at such Christian organizations enable our students to integrate faith in medical practice,” Dr. Tumusiime said.

The institution’s emphasis on quality training, diverse clinical exposure, and the integration of faith in medical practice ensures that UCU graduates are well-prepared to make a positive impact on the communities they serve. 

As the future of medical education and practice unfolds, prospective students can find solace in UCU’s dedication to empowering aspiring doctors with the knowledge, skills and character that makes them stand out in the crowd.

Testimonies of graduands

Ronnie Mwesigwa’s dream, which is contributing towards healing the ailing health sector, is near with his imminent graduation. Mwesigwa is concerned about the patient-to-doctor ratio gap in Uganda. Uganda’s doctor-to-patient ratio is one doctor per every 25,725 patients. In comparison, the USA has one doctor for every 340 persons. 

Mwesigwa lost his grandmother – a death he believes was caused by negligent doctors. Her final note urged her grandson to “study medicine and become a doctor.” 

“The doctor who was serving her postponed her treatment many times even when she needed immediate attention,” he said.

Graduand Davis Ampumuza has promised himself to bring strong work ethic and enthusiasm in the medical field to curb the rate at which pregnant mothers lose their lives and children due to negligence and unavailability of medical officers. 

“The short answer to making health care better in Uganda is a well-developed infrastructure,” he said. “The longer answer relates to the fact that women in particular stay in very hard to reach areas where the distance between their homes and health units is very long and the roads are very poor.”

Ampumuza added that the lack of nearby medical services, combined with procedures performed by less-qualified health care workers,  increases the risk of mortality for pregnant women and their babies.

Ampumuza, Mwesigwa and 43 other new UCU SoM graduates will help fill those gaps.

Following the July graduation, there will be 259 students in the School of Medicine.


PRESS RELEASE: Uganda Christian University to Graduate 1006 Students

Uganda Christian University (UCU) is pleased to announce that it will confer degrees upon 1002 students during the First part of the 24th Graduation ceremony on Friday, July 28, 2023. Among these graduates, 444 (44%) are male, and 562 (56%) are female.

This will be a historical event for the university as it confers degrees upon the first batch of medicine and dentistry student, since its inception.

Table of Contents

The graduation ceremony will be presided over by the University Chancellor, The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu, with the esteemed Chief Guest being Rt. Rev. Dr. Dunstan Kopoliano Bukenya.

Graduation statistics

A total of 29 students have achieved First Class honours, comprising 18 females and 11 males. We are delighted to recognize Yohana Eyob Ghebrekristos, of Eritrean nationality, as the overall best student, graduating with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery and an outstanding CGPA of 4.71. Additionally, we commend Wanyama Wilson, the overall best male student, who pursued a Bachelor of Development and Social Entrepreneurship, and achieved an impressive CGPA of 4.64.

Preceding the graduation, a Commissioning Service will take place on Thursday, July 27, starting at 02:00 pm. During this event, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda and Chancellor of UCU, His Grace The Most Rev. Dr. Kaziimba, will lead prayers and blessings for the graduands. Furthermore, the ceremony will include the recognition and awarding of the best-performing students.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the graduands for reaching this remarkable academic milestone. We also commend their families, friends, and sponsors for their unwavering support throughout their educational journey.

UCU assures all graduates that their transcripts and certificates will be made available on the graduation day, and we are committed to fulfilling this pledge without exception.

NOTE: The graduation ceremony will be streamed live on the Uganda Christian University YouTube Channel and broadcast live on Family TV (DStv channel 375, Free-To-Air facility through Signet (U) Ltd, GOTv channel 829 and StarTimes channel 282. 

UCU Kids Day Care Centre offers staff children Godly upbringing

UCU Kids Day Care Centre offers staff children Godly upbringing

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Working parents continue the struggle to find a convenient, safe and responsible child care school that gives them a peace of mind as they do their jobs. For Uganda Christian University (UCU) staff members, the dilemma is less because of a high-quality Kids Care Centre on the Mukono campus.

Deborah Mugawe, the administrator, said the Kids Care Centre offers day care to children of UCU current and former staff and students, those of UCU service providers and those recommended by the above categories. The plan is to expand the school to UCU’s general community members who subscribe to Christian values and principles. 

“One can be sure of the child’s safety, good moral and Godly values as well as quality learning,” Mugawe said.

About the UCU Kids Care Centre

The Centre admits children from 1 to 6 years. They are grouped into Toddler Class (1-2 years); Baby Class (3-4); Middle Class (4-5); and Top Class (5-6). There are currently 23 children studying at the Centre that has a capacity for 60 children. School fees are about $191 for a term.

Mugawe recalled one humorous incident involving a child who submitted his workbook for grading. A young boy named Isaiah had a sentence error. He wrote “My name Isaiah” instead of “My name is Isaiah” because he thought the verb “is” was already embedded in his name.  

“I love coming to school to play with my friends, to sing songs like, ‘The Lord is my shepherd’,” said five-year-old student, Nicole Kwikiriza. “I  also love to write.”

The Centre incorporates play and education based on an integrated system of Uganda and basic early learning format.

How UCU staff is benefitting from the Kids Care Centre

Rev. Alex Kamoga, the assistant chaplain at UCU and a part-time lecturer at Bishop Tucker School of Divinity and Theology (BTSDT), enrolled his son, Kisakye Kamoga, at the Centre last year based on convenience and holistic learning. 

Children during break time. The Centre services children ages 1 to 6 grouped into Toddler Class of 1-2 years; Baby Class (3-4); Middle Class (4-5); and Top Class (5-6).  In July, there were 23 children at the Centre.
Children during break time. The Centre services children ages 1 to 6 grouped into Toddler Class of 1-2 years; Baby Class (3-4); Middle Class (4-5); and Top Class (5-6). In July, there were 23 children at the Centre.

“I shared a fence with the school,” said Kamoga, a resident of Tech Park. “Usually in the morning, we would see my son going to the fence to listen to the children at the school as they read the Bible and sang; that inspired me to take him there.”

Kamoga said his son is now able to count with added confidence because teachers encourage him to express himself.

 “I am glad my son has learnt to pray and memorized a few verses,” he said.

The Rev. Can. Rose Ekirunga Muhumuza, a BTSDT lecturer, is a mother of two children under age five at the Kids Care Centre. Muhumuza said it was a necessity for her to take her children there when she joined UCU in 2020 because she had a two-year-old child and no nanny.

“The UCU Kids Care Centre is one of the blessings I found here. When I interacted with the teachers there, I loved the way they look after the children,” she said, adding that having her children in the centre makes her a better lecturer as it “lessons my burden” and allows her fuller concentration on teaching. 

Daphine Okiria Nabimanya, who works at the UCU church relations office, recommended the school to her brother for his son – her nephew who now lives with the aunt. 

“When I am busy, the teachers at the Centre look after him for me until I pick him after work,” she said. “Sometimes, I even pick him up at 7 p.m. on days when I have a lot of work.”

Nabimanya said in less than a year, there was a remarkable turnaround in the life of a boy who was shy and didn’t speak English. 

“Now, he speaks English and is confident,” she said, adding. “I am happy that my nephew has learnt how to pray.”


UCU Mbale Campus gets new principal

By Pauline Luba

Dr. Erisa Kigenyi Mazaki, the new Principal of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mbale University College, was twice “acting” in the role over the past five years.

The life of UCU’s Dr. Erisa Kigenyi Mazaki

In August 2018, he joined the institution as a full-time staff member. Just four months later, the UCU Vice Chancellor at the time, Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi, shocked Kigenyi by appointing him the acting principal of the college. The position holder at the time had retired. 

“I was shocked because I thought there were more capable people than I was,”  Kigenyi, an ardent teacher, said.  “I was wondering why I had been tasked with the responsibility.”

Kigenyi was the acting principal until March 2019, when Mrs. Mary Gichuki Manana joined the college as the substantive head. A year later, last year, when the position fell vacant in November, Dr. Kigenyi was appointed in acting capacity. 

In June 2023, the month when Kigenyi was celebrating 50 years of age, he received a notification that he had been appointed as the college’s substantive principal. 

For now, his eyes will be focused on ventures to improve the state of the infrastructure of the college, located in Mbale city, eastern Uganda. With improved infrastructure, there is hope that the enrollment and welfare of students at the college will improve. 

DSC 0019
One of the class blocks at UCU Mbale campus.

Last year, the college launched a fundraising drive to raise money for the expansion of the institution’s infrastructure. At the event, more than sh240million (over $64,000) was collected in cash and pledges. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who was represented at the function by Mbale Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Ahamada Washaki, pledged sh200million (about $53,000).

Should any challenges surface during Kigenyi’s tenure as principal, he feels assured of victory. He says his armor is Psalm 121:1-3 “I look up to the mountains, does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth. He will not let you stumble; the One who watches over you will not slumber.” 

To deliver results in his new position, the father of three boys and one girl hopes to rely on his ever-present and supportive wife, Janet Kigenyi, in affairs of the home. Her management of family affairs enables him to have a peace of mind at work. 

Born in 1973 to Mr. Nsangi Amunoni and Annet Nasiyo, Kigenyi had 10 siblings – three boys and seven girls. He attended North Road Primary School in Mbale city for his primary education and then Bukedi College Kachonga from Senior One to Senior Five. He was unable to return to the school for Senior Six because his father faced financial hardships and could not afford to pay the tuition. Kigenyi was then enrolled at Mbale Progressive School, where he completed Senior Six, emerging as one of the best candidates in the national exams.

The top performance earned Kigenyi a government sponsorship for a Bachelor of Arts with Education at Uganda’s Makerere University. In 1988, Kigenyi graduated as a teacher. Soon after, he teamed up with two colleagues and they started their own school, Mbale Comprehensive High School, where he is still a director. He says teaching and molding students into useful citizens is a satisfying experience.

 “Students are the reason teachers like me exist,” he said.

In November 1998, he joined Mbale Secondary School, where he taught until 2012. Here, he was a classroom teacher before being promoted to the position of head of the history department. He was also appointed as the chair of the staff of the Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS) and patron of student leaders in a school of over 4,000 students. 

In 2005, Kigenyi joined UCU for post-graduate studies, graduating in 2007 with a Master of Science in Human Resource Management in Education. In 2010, he enrolled for a Post-graduate Diploma in Public Administration and Management at Uganda Management Institute, graduating with a first class in 2011. Two years later, Kigenyi went back to school, enrolling for a PhD in Management Science at Mbarara University of Science and Technology. He graduated in 2017. 

Before joining UCU as a full-time staff member in 2018, Kigenyi served the university on a part-time basis for seven years, up to July 2018. 

Out-of-class experiences help prepare UCU students for careers

By Irene Best Nyapendi
The 11 undergraduate programs offered at Uganda Christian University (UCU) have classroom and hands-on learning opportunities. Students are especially encouraged to apply for internships that may be paid or unpaid and year-round or during the one of three semesters each year that students do not have classroom lectures.  These experiences reinforce the meaning of studies and make graduates more employable.   

Merick Wandera, BBA student

Merick Wandera, a UCU Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student interning with the Uganda Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, is among students reaping the advantages of applying his education in the context of the work world. He also recently was named the best intern among student workers at this government site.

“I am so glad that my internship was fruitful because after I emerged as the best intern student,” he said. “They advised me to consider going back there after graduation so that I can join their team.”

Wandera said he had a great internship experience and got new knowledge about governance and finance. He learned that the first role of the government is to provide services to the citizens and not to make profits.

“I used to wonder why the government continues to fund projects that didn’t produce any profit, but during my internship, I learnt that the government is after offering services and not making profits,” Wandera said.

As a result of the internship, he is  more conversant with the process of formulating sound economic policies and accountability for public resources aimed at achieving a sustained economic growth and development for the country.

Kefa Senoga, Journalism student

Kefa Senoga, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication, applauded one UCU lecturer for preparing him for his two internships – one with the New Vision newspaper and one with Uganda Partners. 

“I am so grateful to Mr. John Semakula, the lecturer, who taught us how to shape and write an article with a capturing introduction, good middle and end, which made me stand out amidst other intern students at New Vision,” Senoga said, adding that his writing skill was reinforced during an Economics and Business Journalism class.

At New Vision, Uganda’s biggest media house, Senoga learned more than honing his writing skill. His biggest lesson was in time management. He discovered that at school, students are given ample time to write an article, yet in the newsroom, completion deadlines were shorter.

“At campus, we were given three weeks to submit our work, but at New Vision, I was given the same article and asked to hand it in in two hours. I had to be at New Vision at 8:00 a.m. every morning, dressed professionally and ready to take on assignments,” Senoga said.

Both for Uganda Partners and New Vision, Senoga learned to apply the rules of accuracy, balance, truth and objectivity. He discovered that not all stories written are published, but was fortunate and inspired that all of his did appear in the New Vision print newspaper during his internship.

Sarah Thon Nyanachiek, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration who interned at Smile Again Africa Development Organization in Juba, South Sudan
Sarah Thon Nyanachiek, a third-year UCU student pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration who interned at Smile Again Africa Development Organization in Juba, South Sudan

To Sarah Thon Nyanachiek, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration, a paid internship at Smile Again Africa Development Organization in Juba, South Sudan, gave her an added opportunity to build her career skills. She said she frequently applied the theoretical knowledge she learned from class, gained a clearer view of what it meant to be in the professional world and realized the importance of teamwork. 

“I improved my communication skills by engaging with people from different walks of life since my profession is all about working with different communities,” Nyanachiek said. “During my internship,  students and staff members from the agency worked together in the implementation of the project, and this increased our productivity,” she said. Where there was no cooperation, she suffered with heavy workloads as a result of others not delivering the tasks in time as required by the supervisor. 

Doreen Nyakato, a finalist pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, who had an internship at Ahumuza Child Development Center
Doreen Nyakato, a finalist pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, who had an internship at Ahumuza Child Development Center

Doreen Nyakato, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, gained more skills on strategic planning and managing an organization’s finances during her internship with Ahumuza Child Development Center. Among her applied skills were putting vouchers in the system and paying fees using checks for this organization under the Bunyoro Kitara Diocese that looks after the vulnerable members of the community such as orphans and widows.

“Every day was a learning experience for me,” she said. “However, my major take away was the lessons I got from my office supervisor who taught me to better align an organization’s financial status to their goals and objectives.”


Raising a child while seeking for knowledge

With support from the SG-NAPI ‘Scientist after Child’ scheme, Ugandan agronomist Rosemary Bulyaba may now both look after her children and conduct research that helps her community.

Ugandan agronomist Rosemary Bulyaba is exploring how to find varieties of cowpea that are more resilient to adverse climatic conditions, can thrive in various soils types and environments, and whose leaves can be utilized as vegetables and are rich in vital nutrients such as iron and folate. Bulyaba is the dean of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Faculty of Agriculture Sciences. However must also balance her research work with her role as a mother of two children, a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.

However, her second maternity leave has been much easier than the first one, because, while working at the Uganda Christian University (UCU), in Mukono, Uganda, she received a special grant that TWAS established in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Called the Seed Grant for New African Principal Investigators (SG-NAPI), it offers an unprecedented mother-friendly component called ‘Scientist after Child’ scheme. This scheme allows pregnant scientists and new mothers to receive extra funding to hire a lab assistant, thus obtaining reliable maternity leave support.

“Receiving the SG-NAPI was a huge help for my scientific career. I could continue my research with the aid of an assistant while staying at home and breastfeeding,” she explained. “This grant has strengthened my reputation and increased my value at UCU. My career was uplifted: I was head of the department and now I am the Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences.”

The SG-NAPI grant meets the needs of early-career scientists from developing countries, and, in particular, from the least developed countries (LDCs). With funding entirely from BMBF, it allows young scientists to purchase the research facilities they need to enhance their productivity. Its ‘Scientists after Child’ scheme seeks to enhance the productivity of female scientists returning to academia after maternity leave. Another component of the programme, the ‘Master of Science training grant’, allows scientists to train master’s students within their research group. Bulyaba benefitted from both these components.

A mother-friendly scheme

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an annual herbaceous legume originally used to feed animals, especially by smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – hence the name cowpea.  However, it is becoming increasingly relevant in human nutrition, as it is rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fiber, and low in fat content.

Bulyaba’s interest in nutrition-sensitive agriculture and agronomic management practices is not recent. Her early step in science led her to study grain legumes such as cowpeas, common beans, lablab beans, and soybeans. In 2019, she earned a PhD in crop production, physiology, and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University, US, and then moved back to Uganda. Shortly thereafter, she discovered that she was expecting, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was about to begin.

“I was afraid that I would have to halt my scientific career for a while, because my husband and I already had a young daughter, who was only 1 year old at the time, to take care of. However, field and lab work are often quite demanding,” she recalled.

Rosemary Bulyaba
Rosemary Bulyaba inspecting the offshoots in a cowpea field. (Photo provided)

An agronomist’s life is physically intense. The fieldworkbegins with land preparation and the planting of the seeds. Then weekly monitoring activity requires extra work to ensure that the plants have germinated and are growing well—otherwise a new round of sowing is needed. Sometimes insects ruin the crop, and scientists need to use pesticides to keep those at bay.

When Bulyaba was still a new staff member and a mother for the second time, she learned about a programme that would preserve her work. The former Dean of Bulyaba’s faculty mentioned the SG-NAPI grant and the mother-friendly scheme. Bulyaba applied, and her maternity leave improved. With a two-year long grant covering 2022 and 2023, she could hire an assistant who supports in supervising the research activities while she is at home with her kids. This also ensures that her master’s students have the support they need and prevents a gap in her scientific work.

“I have three sites to check on periodically, in Eastern Uganda, Central Uganda, and in greenhouses,” Bulyaba explained. “With my students, we are now testing over 100 different genotypes, across these sites, to see which ones best adapt to these environments, under those specific conditions. It is interesting to see how plants behave under conditions that are apparently similar, but in practice different.” Some of the cowpea genotypes are from Ghana, others from Makerere University, and from UCU where Bulyaba is employed.

A mother’s impact on child wellbeing

The grant’s impact was enormous, not only on her career. In a more relaxed mood at home, Bulyaba offered her newborn, Shaun, quality time, and the difference from the first pregnancy was evident.

“My presence at home brought several benefits to my son, who is more self-confident, assertive, and prompt from a cognitive point of view,” she observed. He was breastfed for 18 months, while his sister stopped after four. In addition, Shaun, not yet 3, can count one-to-ten, recite the alphabet, identify shapes and colours, and has started speaking both his native language, Luganda, and English without having attended kindergarten yet.

The SG-NAPI grant put Bulyaba in the position to make a difference also for young scientists in her community. She hired two master’s students, Naome Aryatwijuka and Norah Akaba, whose role in this cowpea research is crucial.

Rosemary Bulyaba's MSc students
Naome Aryatwijuka (left) and Nora Akaba, Rosemary Bulyaba’s master’s students, checking the sprouts in a greenhouse in Mukono, Uganda. (Photo provided)

Aryatwijuka, who conducts agronomic field work and experimentation, is a master’s student in agriculture research. She handles tasks such as planting the seeds, collecting the leaves, and correlating the quality and yield of the harvested crops with specific genotypes and field locations. Then Akaba steps in.

Thanks to the SG-NAPI grant, Akaba can pursue her master’s degree in human nutrition. She uses Aryatwijuka’s information to select the most potentially nutritious leaves, which are naturally rich in micronutrients that are especially important for reproductive-age women. She is also involved in the preparation and development of a nutritionally dense cowpea soup for the local communities. Additionally, she is working on gathering feedback from community members regarding the quality and acceptability of the meal.

“I feel quite privileged because the SG-NAPI grant gave me the chance to hire two young women and have an impact on their education and career,” Bulyaba said. “Women often face more challenges and have fewer privileges compared to men, and having a child can often so easily lead to the end of their scientific career. I do hope that both Akaba and Aryatwijuka will also pursue a PhD after this master’s experience.”

“Receiving this grant was not only for me but for my students as well,” she concluded.

This article, written by By Cristina Serra was published on The World Academy of Sciences.

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