By Pauline Luba
“Watching your peers graduate in their third year while you still have two more to go is hard,” Hilda Diana Ayikoru said. This is what Ayikoru had to contend with at Uganda Christian University (UCU) for two years as she completed her five-year course while those who were pursuing three-year courses walked out of the university with degrees.
But that was not the only challenge she faced while a student at UCU. The 24-year-old said she barely had any holiday time since medical students were constantly studying. As a result, she said she had to forgo many plans with her family and friends.
“That’s what makes me more excited that this day has come,” the 24-year-old said during an interview with Uganda Partners a few hours to her graduation at UCU on July 28 as she repeatedly said “finally” she was done with the course. She is not just a graduate with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery, but also is part of the nine members of the pioneer class of the course at UCU. They were among the 1,006 students who graduated on July 28. On the day, the university also graduated 45 pioneer students in Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.
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“It was a long and tough journey,” said Ayikoru, adding: “I have learned a lot, and I am a different person now from when I first joined university.”
“I always wanted to be a doctor because doctors bring so much change into the world,” said Ayikoru, who was once a class leader at the university. Her love for the career started in her childhood as she often visited the hospital where her parents worked.
Why UCU school of Dentistry fills her with Pride
When UCU announced it would be starting a course in dental surgery in 2018, Ayikoru says she was one of the people excited about the development because of the university’s good academic and Christian reputation.
“The kind of course units we study, such as Christian Ethics and World Views, helped paint a picture of how best my dental sensitization dream will work,” she said in an earlier interview in 2021, noting that some of her friends in other institutions envied her especially when it came to the student-lecturer relationship for my course. “UCU lecturers know their students individually.”
While in school, Ayikoru also started a crocheting business in order to get money for her upkeep. She would crochet balls, wool or yarn into clothes for sale. When she discovered that the business was a promising one, she convinced two other students – one in the UCU School of Medicine and the other at the UCU School of Business – to join her. Most of her crocheting work was done late in the night, when she completed reading. She hopes to continue with the business of crocheting even as she joins the world of dental work.
For now, Ayikoru will undergo a mandatory one-year internship in a Uganda government health facility before she is able to practice her profession in a country with slightly over 300 dentists for a population of over 45 million people. After gaining more work experience, Ayikoru plans to enroll for a master’s course in the same field, before plunging into private practice.
The last born of four children attended Kirinya Parents School, St. Joseph’s Girls School Nsambya for O’level and Gayaza High School for A’level before joining UCU.