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UCU School of Medicine gets added spiritual infusion

By Patty Huston-Holm with Muduku Derrick Brian and Jimmy Siyasa
First, there were five. Then 10.  And on a spring day and under a white tent shelter below darkening skies, there were 50. On the Ides of March 2022, half of the 100 blue plastic chairs in the pavilion were filled by Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) School of Medicine (SoM) doctor hopefuls.

“I pray, Jesus, that you will cleanse our hearts,” a young woman began before bowed heads, concluding, “Father, we pray that you bring your spirit in this place.”

According to the Rev. Ocen Walter Onen, the 28-year-old UCU-Mukono chaplaincy priest assigned to the medical school, participation in community worship at the Mengo hospital location has been growing, albeit slowly, in the past five months. Spirituality for UCU’s future doctors became a priority following a discussion among the university’s theology and divinity leaders in the fall of 2021.

Rev. Ocen Walter Onen, UCU chaplaincy intern and newly assigned at the UCU School of Medicine.
Rev. Ocen Walter Onen, UCU chaplaincy intern and newly assigned at the UCU School of Medicine.

Previous to Rev. Walter’s assignment, the Rev. Alex Kamoga was straddling responsibilities at the UCU Kampala campus with the SoM location, but he was often stuck in traffic jams, delaying the service. At that, Rev. Alex had little time for one-on-one counseling.

“We realized we had a population of students not receiving the Christian services that those in other programs did,” Rev. Walter said. “Medical courses are full of stress and these students have the same frustrations and temptations that others do.”

The Rev. Eng. Paul Wasswa, UCU’s chaplain, initiated the discussion among the clergy. Coming out of Uganda’s Covid lockdown, he expressed his concern about the need for added spiritual infusion for the current 230 students who would someday become pediatricians, surgeons, dentists and other medical professionals.

“The work of the chaplaincy is more than coordination; it includes teaching, but most importantly, it includes discipleship and pastoral care,” he said.  “Effectiveness in chaplaincy work requires consistent presence on every campus.”

UCU School of Medicine students pray during community worship on their campus at Kampala’s Mengo Hospital.
UCU School of Medicine students pray during community worship on their campus at Kampala’s Mengo Hospital.

According to Rev. Wasswa, community worship exists for teaching, reinforcing a sense of Christian community and a reminder of God’s presence. When it comes to addressing student problems, the UCU chaplaincy “does not work in isolation,” but engages the counseling staff, he said.

The five-year SoM program began in 2018 with the vision of adding to Uganda’s health care system more physicians that were not only highly skilled but also encompassing Christian values and practices. SoM planners were aware that some professionals mentoring and teaching students would not be believers in Jesus Christ. They were, likewise, aware of the science vs. religion debate that continues today, globally.

“Science and theology are complementary in wisdom, but God is the ultimate creator of that knowledge and wisdom,” Rev. Walter said. “Without our Lord and Savior, the work within the medical discipline would not exist…when you go to a hospital, you ask Jesus to treat you through a doctor.”

At the UCU main campus in Mukono, as well as at Kampala, students have easier access to clergy guidance. Additionally, the Mukono UCU students engage in sports, student leadership groups and other activities to relieve stress and youth pressures related to drugs, alcohol and sexual activity that can lead to pregnancy out of wedlock.

“I tell them that I am single, too, and have the same pressures that I overcome through my faith and understanding of scriptures,” Rev. Walter said. “Romans 12 addresses that we need to be a living sacrifice.”

In Apostle Paul’s Romans 12:1, sacrifice references service or offering to God.

“God has a plan for all of us,” Rev. Walter said. “If you partner with God, you are headed for prosperity.”

In this day’s message and as mid-day Islam chants echoed in the background, Rev. Walter referenced Luke 11:1-4 and the Lord’s prayer, reminding students that “our Father is in heaven” but that “He also is everywhere.”

Such is among the messages that Rev. Walter delivers to the 3-5 students, mostly female, who come to him privately, with problems and questions at the SoM campus. His messages are about faith, strength to have it, forgiveness and understanding. One lesson he repeats is the importance of Christian character in a world where “beauty can fade.”

On this particular day, he closed his message with a story about a man who borrowed a spear from his brother with the intent of using the weapon to stop an elephant from destructive behavior.  When the elephant took off with the spear, the lending brother was angry and not forgiving.

“There is power in forgiveness,” Rev. Walter said. “There is power in the Word.”

Law alum becomes digital content icon

By Vanessa Babirye Gloria
Studying a course in law was not Fiona Kemigisha’s first choice, but it was the choice of her parents. In pursuing the course, she intended to fulfill their dream while trying to put a finger on her own desires that edged toward digital media.

In 2013, Kemigisha graduated from the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Law program. She immediately headed to Kenya, where she did her internship in Nairobi. She later enrolled in a post-graduate diploma in legal practice at the Kenya School of Law. To practice law in Uganda and Kenya, one must attain a diploma in legal practice.

She is grateful for the four years she spent pursuing a Bachelor of Laws course at UCU because she says it provided her a platform to keep the right company and meet friends who have remained invaluable in her life.

Upon her return to Uganda, she was employed at the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, where Kemigisha put her professional learning into action. Her initial intention was to spend five years in this job and then switch to something else. And she almost hit her target. She left the agency just after four years.

While practicing law at the immigration department was rewarding, she felt her heart belonged somewhere else. That place was digital content. She had a side job of creating digital content, which she sold to clients, and hopes of full-time work there. 

The force with which the covid-related lockdown came in 2020 was the push that Kemigisha needed for her to throw in the towel at the immigration directorate. Uganda imposed a lockdown last year, from March to June, where movement was only permitted to staff it considered essential workers.

Being home more for Kemigisha meant more acquired skills in creating digital content. 

 “I got to a point where I realized that I needed to do something that didn’t just make other people happy, but myself,” the 31-year-old says.

Watch: “Kemigisha interview about self-employment” (more than 2,500 views)

Under the digital platform business name of Fiona Kemi, Kemigisha shares everything from natural hair care tutorials to her own journey with her hair. She started her journey on a WordPress blog, where she shared about alopecia (hair loss) and hair care. 

Eventually, when her content gained traffic on social media, she began sharing videos not just about natural hair, but about a complete lifestyle. She uses YouTube channels and Instagram to engage with her followers. She helps clients find the necessary hair tools, products and designs a customized hair care regimen to help them grow healthy hair. 

Watch: Kemigisha talking about her natural hair (nearly 1,000 views)

Nyonyozi Murungi, a content creator and a friend of Kemigisha, said when her friend told her about quitting her formal job, she got concerned.

“I was afraid about her life outside work, but Kemigisha is a creative woman; you can’t help admiring how her brain thinks,” she said. “She’s unstoppable. I love how her content has helped all of us nurture our hair and relationships.”

Though her parents were concerned when she was quitting her job, they supported her in her new venture. Kemigisha says: “They let me be when I chose and that was all the support I needed from them.”

The ball is now in Kemigisha’s court to turn her passion more fully into finances to support herself.  

‘Uncle Mark’ on landing job at Next Media Services

By Derrick Muduku
To many, being the Guild President at Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) Kampala campus and doing comedy at the same time is mutually exclusive. That was not the case for Mark Agaba. In 2019, Agaba, a famous figure in the entertainment circles, won the contest to become the campus’ top student leader. 

The stand-up comedian, who goes by the stage name Uncle Mark, ably executed the two roles of comedy and student leadership. 

Agaba on stage during a stand-up comedy show
Agaba on stage during a stand-up comedy show

His role as a student leader played a great part in Agaba scooping his most recent job as Public Relations Protocol Executive at Next Media Services, a media company in Uganda. Next Media Services owns NBS TV, Next Radio, news site Nile Post and Sanyuka TV. 

“As Public Relations Protocol Executive, I am tasked with writing press releases, and reaching out to people who are engaging with our media outlets,” Agaba said. “This opportunity means a lot to me. I’m also expected to co-ordinate activities of Next Media Services with partner international media organizations, such as CNN and BBC.”

“I discovered my funny side during conversations with my friends,” he said. “Whenever I was around my peers, my comments would always leave them in stitches.” Agaba said that is what propelled him to take comedy more seriously and nurture his talent. 

Agaba credits the virtues he learned at UCU for carving him into the person he is today. 

“It is the virtues of Christ-centeredness, diligence, integrity and stewardship that I honor in every field of my life,” he said. “I have not found any better waves of transformation than these.”

Just how did Agaba manage to balance books, comedy and leadership? 

“I endeavored to make the time for books, since I believed in leading, even in academics,” Agaba says. “I also have to give credit to the competent team with whom I served during my tenure as Guild President. I am grateful to my Vice President of the Guild leadership, Jemimah Jehopio, and the different heads of departments for their diligent service. They made my work a lot lighter and enjoyable.” 

Phoebe Namujehe, the immediate past Guild President of UCU Kampala Campus, said Agaba, who was her predecessor, was a tolerant, humble, hardworking and committed leader. 

Namujehe said Agaba often lit up the mood at the campus with his comedy. “Even as he read his manifesto, he was comical,” she said of the son of Jane Agaba and the late Godfrey Agaba from Kabale district in southwestern Uganda.

Before joining UCU, Agaba acquired a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Makerere University. At UCU, he studied in the Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration program. 

Now that he has found his way onto the staff list of a major broadcaster in Uganda, Agaba says he will use the opportunity to further nurture his love for communication.

UCU students graduate from UN Campus programme


At least 15 students of Uganda Christian University (UCU) have graduated from Millenium Fellowship, a semester-long Leadership Programme that advances the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Majority of the graduates, at the virtual graduation ceremony held on Wednesday, 17 November 2021, were female.
They will be issued Certificates, having fulfilled all the requirements of the online mentorship program to which they enrolled in August 2021, alongside thousands of University students all over the world. Some of the Ugandan institutions involved were Makerere, Gulu, Ndejje Universities, among others.
During the course of four months, the participants (Class of 2021) learned an array of skills including Leadership, project management, social networking, among others. The UCU Campus Director of Millennium Fellowship, Peter Kabuye, a fourth-year student pursuing Bachelor of Dental Surgery says the Fellowship has played a pivotal role in expanding his team’s professional network, including himself.

“I and my colleagues have been given an opportunity to network with students from various campuses of UCU and universities worldwide, he said,” adding “ I was able to meet like-minded people that have visions and beliefs similar to mine.”
Kabuye urges other students from UCU to enroll for the virtually-oriented fellowship whose application window is open for the Year 2022.” Millenium Fellowship is “ an opportunity to network with respected worldwide leaders of all walks of life,” he argues.
On her part, Syndia Chemutai, a fourth-year student of Bachelor of Laws is excited to be contributing to the SDGs, having been equipped through the Fellowship.
Due to various challenges, including poor internet connectivity, some five students did not graduate. They had to have attended all Zoom sessions held during the nearly four-month-long Fellowship.
The Millennium Campus Network (MCN) is a Boston-based, global Not-for-profit in Partnership with the UN Academic Impact. Each year it selects 20 students from different University campuses to develop projects that advance the 17 UN SDGs.