Students Affairs



UCU advice for internships, work

For many university courses, students are expected to engage in  internships or have work placements as one requirement for the award of their degree. Pauline Luba of the UCU School of Journalism gleaned information from  some key university staff, an employer/alum and two students to learn how students should conduct themselves in the world of work, especially during internships.  UCU Law alum, Chris Mogal, created a video to reinforce the message, including how to avoid harrassment. 

Rev. Paul Wasswa Ssembiro, university chaplain, UCU

I am the university chaplain at Uganda Christian University (UCU). I’m in my fifth year here in this position. Internships come with temptations, “predators” and things that could be dangerous to a student. However, when students go into the internship with strong values, they can always cope. Know the value you attach to yourself, and you need a solid character base from which to draw the values. At UCU, we give opportunities to students to grow spiritually. Once you join any workplace, make your stance clear. Speak back to whichever predator, and the good news is the predators know that what they are doing is wrong.

Frank Obonyo
Frank Obonyo, UCU alumnus, Senior Public Relations Officer at LDC

I am the Senior Public Relations Officer at the Law Development Center (LDC). From 2003 to 2006, I pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication at UCU. The transition from student to work is really different. As a student, there are lots of dos and don’ts in the guidelines at school to help keep someone in check, but when you move out to the professional world, it is all about you, and so there is interconnectedness between the two. The professional life is informed by the student’s life. There is no disconnect between the two; how you handle yourself as a student will reflect professionally on how you also will live the working life. My transition was formed when I joined UCU. Some of the things that I learned seem to be small, but mean a lot in life. For example, things like worship are not in every university. But when I joined UCU, I felt my level of faith improved because of the opportunity, such as the worship hour every Tuesday and Thursday.  I am one of the people formulating the sexual harassment policy at LDC. If you know yourself, you will not give in. Alumni are a big force in change. They contribute to the reputation of an institution. So, we cannot leave them out. They can guide the students. We can invite alumni to speak to students on how they can be prepared to manage their life of work. 

Joel Tusiime Mwesigwa
Joel Tusiime Mwesigwa, 3rd year student of Bachelors of Law at UCU

I have been an intern at places such as Pearl Advocates — a law firm and Resilient Africa Network, a partnership of 20 African universities in 13 countries. Our university usually guides us on where to go for internships. The talks they give us also provide insights into what to expect at the internship. There are some principles we need to uphold in order not to cast the university in a bad light. I have never faced sexual harassment or discrimination at the workplace, and I pray that my peers never get to experience such. Students need to be God-fearing. The university could counsel students on how to keep safe at work. 

Margaret Kiwanuka
Margaret Kiwanuka, teacher, Quality Assurance Coordinator at UCU

UCU prides itself in professionalism and developing the character of students. We expect students to have integrity when they go to the workplace. We also expect our students to be diligent and to live by the core values we instilled in them. We expect them to serve others, and not to behave as if they are above everyone else. Servanthood and stewardship are some of the values we instil in them. They are also taught foundational courses that help them to conduct themselves out in the world. The university organises career affairs and invites several employers to speak to our students. In addition to this, UCU runs mentorship programs for the students. 

The programs equip students with tips and tricks to deal with issues like sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In case of any harassment at the workplace, students need to identify who is harassing them and inform the authorities. 

Irene Nabwire
Irene Nabwire, university counsellor, UCU

At UCU, we offer several services that prepare students for internships and work placements. One of the key trainings that we have is the para counsellors training, where we discuss matters like the dos and don’ts in the world of work, as well as issues about sexual harassment. Students need to know the right steps to take in case of harassment. Harassment comes with a lot of consequences, including pregnancy. So, we try to “journey” with people who may find themselves in such situations. 

We also teach the students about emotional stability — when you go to a workplace, there are little things that can provoke someone, but once you are emotionally stable, you can respond, as well as execute your duties. 

Laetisha Asio Seth, student of Bachelor of Governance and International Relations, UCU

It’s advisable that one holds their values high when going into the world of work, for instance, being God-fearing, assertive, able to communicate and defend oneself. I advise that you just stay away from instances that could compromise you. 


UCU student balances job opportunity and studies

By Irene Best Nyapendi
It began with a simple stroll around the bazaar grounds at Uganda Christian University (UCU) Derrick Matovu, a School of Business student, was there to see the latest trends within the exhibitors. That casual trip to the bazaar last year provided Matovu an unexpected opportunity.

He was especially drawn to a stall that belonged to Stabex International, a fuel and gas company in Uganda. Little did he know that his inquisitive demeanor attracted the attention of the stall owners. Before he knew it, the exhibitors asked if he was interested in being an ambassador for their Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) gas cylinders, which are largely used for cooking. And for that role, he would earn a commission of sh5,000 (about $1.3) for every gas cylinder sold to a buyer.

Matovu serves as a fuel pump attendant during the night shift at the fuel station.
Matovu serves as a fuel pump attendant during the night shift at the fuel station.

Matovu saw the opportunity as a godsend. At the time, he was a class leader, and was sure of leveraging that position to market the cylinders to his classmates. As the class leader, Matovu was the link between students in his class and the university administration, often helping to pass on to the students any communication from the university authorities, and vice versa. Matovu took advantage of the free time he had during the two weeks of the bazaar to market the gas cylinders at the event. He also took advantage of the class Whatsapp groups to market the cylinders.

That marketing activity in essence ushered Matovu into the practical side of the course that he is pursuing at UCU — Bachelor of Business Administration. And that was not even his initial program choice. The 29-year-old had wanted to pursue a science-related course. However, his father, a businessman, knew the benefits that his son would accrue as a business professional. He thus encouraged Matovu to pursue his current course.

For his internship, Matovu’s father secured for his son a placement at the country’s forestry agency, the National Forestry Authority. Again, this was against the wishes of Matovu who wanted to use the opportunity to further cement his relationship with Stabex International. He had secured an internship placement, but had to go with his father’s choice.

Matovu at his job
Matovu at his job

Matovu eventually formalized his relationship with Stabex International in November last year, getting employed as a fuel pump attendant. He underwent a two-week training at Stabex International fuel station branch in Mukono, but was employed at the Seeta branch, located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) away from UCU. 

“I chose to work to reduce the burden I was heaping on my sister and father who were providing the money,” Matovu, the second-born of three siblings, said. “I also knew that it was not possible to entirely depend on my family for upkeep.”

At Stabex, Matovu’s schedule is for night shift while at UCU, his classes take place during the day. He balances work and studies. 

His night shift as a fuel pump begins at 4:50 p.m. and ends at 6:50 a.m. Fortunately, he only has two lectures that start at 8 a.m. and on such days, he makes sure to be at his hostel by 7:20 a.m. to be able to prepare for class. 

On days when his classes start later in the day, he takes advantage of that to first catch some sleep, before he heads to the university for lectures.  

Balancing the demands of work and school, coupled with transportation expenses, has tested Matovu’s resolve. 

At his workplace, pump attendants are given allowance for meals, which he uses for his transport. Matovu spends sh6,000 ($1.6) on transport every day, which is beyond the amount they are given for lunch. To cater for the shortfall, on many days, he walks part of the distance. On other days, he may choose to forego lunch, so he saves some money for transport. On the few days he gets tips from customers, that serves as his transport top-up. 


Young creatives demonstrate projects at career exhibition

Uganda Christian University (UCU) Honors College recently collaborated with Usanii Village-Africa, a non-governmental organization, the UCU Directorate of Student Affairs, and the university’s 26th Guild Government to conduct a career exhibition. Themed “Navigating Horizons; a Journey Through Diverse Careers,” the exhibition, held at the UCU main campus in Mukono, was intended to showcase ideas from different faculties and schools, in addition to linking the students to industry players. The Faculty of Engineering, Design, and Technology was recognized as the top exhibitor, with the School of Business and the School of Law following in that order. Partners Intern Kefa Senoga talked to some exhibitors.

Atwiine Barinaba demonstrating his art skills.
Atwiine Barinaba demonstrating his art skills.

I use the proceeds from the sale of the art pieces to support myself at school. The cost of the art pieces ranges from sh10,000 (about $2.6) to as high as sh2.5million (about $644). The business of selling art is not one where someone can depend solely since the money does not come in every day.

Art can also be a service. For example, it would be a better option to hire an artist to perform the work of interior design, rather than one without any knowledge of art. I have also started private classes for children, so I can teach them the subject of art outside the classroom setting.

Okot Innocent, Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Okot Innocent, Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering

The technologies we’re exhibiting represent clean cooking solutions. Among the technologies is a stove that utilizes bi-ethanol, derived from fermented starch-producing foods like sugarcane waste, maize and sorghum. It’s considered a sustainable clean-cooking method because we get the bi-ethanol without burning charcoal or cutting down trees.

When bi-ethanol is poured into this stove, it produces a blue or luminous smokeless flame, which is ideal for cooking. By using this stove, we not only decrease reliance on burning fuels, but also mitigate gas emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment.

We are also exhibiting a gasifier, another cooking technology, where you can put in your biomass, for example charcoal, wood or briquettes. This technology produces some soot or smoke, but it is thin. When this smoke goes out, it mixes with the clean air, but the effect is less because it’s thin, with fewer particles or pollutants.

Michael Ainomugisha conducts an interview for his podcasts.
Michael Ainomugisha conducts an interview for his podcasts.

We have fruits in our stall because we can’t talk about fitness without talking about nutrition. Fruits are an essential component in ensuring a healthy and fit body. In our community, many eateries do not include fruits on their menu. We, however, prioritize the inclusion of fruits as we preach the gospel of fitness

As the UCU Fitness Club, we support our members to access their essential fruits. We support students on different fitness endeavors – some people come to us with a request to reduce their weight, while others just want to keep fit.

Our club works with different organizations to foster holistic health like mental, physical and spiritual, among their employees. Currently, our activities are primarily conducted at the main campus, but we intend to expand our presence to other university campuses in the near future.

Michael Ainomugisha conducts an interview for his podcasts.
Michael Ainomugisha conducts an interview for his podcasts.

I am showcasing an innovation of a podcast, which is best explained as an audio storytelling platform, for issues to do with mental health.

Last year, when the New Vision newspaper published an article stating that 14 million Ugandans were affected by mental health issues, they did not delve deeper into the specific impact of that on the youth. In the Ainomugisha Podcast, there’s an episode titled “Life Experiences,” where youth openly share how they overcome mental health challenges.

I once interviewed a woman who shared her journey of using alcohol as a coping mechanism to forget the challenges she was facing at the time. She also explained to us how she managed to stop taking alcohol. Subsequently, she started a sobriety platform. Our podcast aims to share such experience to inspire others who could be facing similar challenges.

Byaruhanga Joshua Morris, Bachelor of Laws
Byaruhanga Joshua Morris, Bachelor of Laws

As the School of Law, we created a user-friendly “UCU Law” app to help both legal professionals and the laypeople. The app is intended to make it easier to draft tenancy agreements and to access legal documents in text and audio format, including statutes, acts, laws and cases.

We chose tenancy agreements because it affects a majority of Ugandans who are either owners of property or tenants in the properties they occupy. Processing a tenancy agreement on the app only requires entering the necessary information requested on the portal, such as name, address, and contact details, among others.

The developers created the app with students in mind, since many of them seek accommodation in hostels outside the university. The other advantage that can be accrued from using the app is access to a statute board that allows students to easily access the statutes through the platform. 

The app, which is available for free access through the UCU International Humanitarian Law blog, also provides audio cases, which law students can take advantage in their course. 

Dickson Tumuramye, head of the Honors College at UCU

According to Tumuramye, they organized the exhibition to provide a platform for students with different innovations.

“Since we are in an era of innovations and employment, this was an opportunity for the students to showcase their work to potential employers who could either hire them or offer them placements for internship opportunities,” Tumuramye says.

He added that the organizers wanted to showcase what UCU students can do. 


UCU students share internship experiences

Many students from the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Main/Mukono Campus and other campuses and constituent colleges are engaged in internships at different places of work. The internships are intended to enable students gain work experience while satisfying requirements for their university qualifications. Pauline Luba talked to some education, business and journalism students currently doing internships to learn their perceptions of this knowledge and training.

Christy Assimwe is an intern at an international school.
Christy Asiimwe is an intern at an international school.

Christy Asiimwe, Bachelor of Arts in Education, third year, main campus. Intern at Acorns International School.

I am having a good experience. It is great that I get to serve as an intern at an international school. Due to the differences in the curriculum, many national universities will advise one to stick to a school that teaches the national curriculum. However, I like the fact that I will be able to learn about the International Baccalaureate curriculum so that I can see how it fits in our new national curriculum. I also like the exposure and the supportive environment. It has taken me some time to get a feel of what it means to work in the classroom. But I know I will, soon. 

Ninsiima Barbra looks forward to improving her accounting skills.
Ninsiima Barbra looks forward to improving her accounting skills.

Ninsiima Barbra, Diploma in Business Administration, Second year at UCU Bishop Barham University College,  Intern at Pride Microfinance, Kabale branch.

I will be spending two months as an intern at this microfinance institution. We are two UCU students here. To get here, I have to travel four kilometers (2.5 miles), which is quite far, but I am determined to make it happen without any challenges. I look forward to improving my accounting skills and understanding the banking system.  

Jonathan Okello wishes he could continue working after the internship.
Jonathan Okello wishes he could continue working after the internship.

Jonathan Okello, Bachelor of Arts in Education, third year, main campus. Intern at Mpoma School, Satellite Campus.

I was welcomed to the school well. There are other interns from different other institutions. At such postings, one can easily tell a student from UCU, based on how they dress and conduct themselves. The challenge we sometimes face is that since we have one more semester to study, we have to leave the schools and return to the university yet in some cases, some of the schools would like to retain us as staff. It feels like there will be a gap left when we return to the university. The co-operation and guidance from the other staff members at the school have been exceptional.

Dickson Twecungwire likes the fact that he gets to write articles for the hospital newsletters and press releases.
Dickson Twecungwire likes the fact that he gets to write articles for the hospital newsletters and press releases.

Dickson Twecungwire, Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, third year Bishop Barham University College. Intern at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, communications department.

My earlier days of internship first proved a challenge because at the university, we were taught the theory regarding public relations, which I am majoring in. Now, here, you have to put what you learned into practice. I like the fact that I get to write articles for the hospital newsletters and press releases. I also like that I get to do graphic design work. I’m currently working hard so that I can impress the management here and get retained as full-time staff.

Ainembabazi Shivan is an intern at her former school.
Ainembabazi Shivan is an intern at her former school.

Ainembabazi Shivan, Bachelor of Arts in Education, third year Bishop Barham University College. Intern at St. Theresa’s Girls School, Kanungu District.

I am an intern at a school where I was a student. And now I get to go back and share my knowledge with the students. The students here are quite friendly, which makes the working environment welcoming. Since this is my last internship before graduation, I hope to gain all the necessary skills and the experience that will enable me to succeed in the world of work.

Aaron Gamushabe has been posting content on the university website.
Aaron Gamushabe has been posting content on the university website.

Aaron Gamushabe, Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, third year Bishop Barham University College. Intern at Mbarara University of Science and Technology.

I like the fact that there are people ready to guide me, especially my supervisor. The team is also quite friendly. I have learned many new things, such as posting content on the university website, and writing reports. I hope to get more practical skills and come out as a real professional who is ready for the world of work.

Ainembabazi Annah says the work environment is welcoming.
Ainembabazi Annah says the work environment is welcoming.

Ainembabazi Annah, Bachelor of Arts in Education, third year, Bishop Barham University College. Intern at Rwentobo High School.

This is a private school in Ntungamo district, western Uganda. The work environment is welcoming and we are learning quite many things as interns. There are some things that we never imagined in the world of work, but with the internship, we get the real experience of what it means to be in the world of work. For instance, we can only leave the workplace after 5 p.m. Now, that is something I did not expect, but thank God, I am now getting to learn it.


From life of hopelessness, art gives Okello a livelihood

By Irene Best Nyapendi
One of the reasons Reagan Okello loves art is it gives him the latitude to express himself beyond what the eyes and cameras can see. By doing so, Okello is able to tell a story that is different and  “complete.”

Take, for instance, one of the pieces with an imposing presence in Okello’s art gallery. The piece depicts eight people dancing in a nightclub. On a closer look, some of the people have animal heads in place of human heads. This is one example, Okello argues, that art has an edge over the human eye and the camera. No camera could ever capture people with animal heads. 

So, what is the story behind the animal heads’ art piece?

Okello's art gallery that doubles as his sitting room
Okello’s art gallery that doubles as his sitting room

Okello says ordinarily, during the day, the actions of many people is something close to purity, which would be represented by white color. However, after nightfall, the same people assume different behavior, which is why each of the people in the art piece is painted wearing a colorful outfit. And because some people partake of intoxicants at night, they become less able to control what they do or say. To Okello, such people then begin to behave like animals. And that is the reason he put animal heads on some of the people. 

Currently a final-year student of Bachelor of Industrial Fine Art at Uganda Christian University (UCU), Okello says his dream is to offer a unique service to his clients once he fully joins the world of work. He says he would like to share with his client the passion, the peace and the fulfillment he gets while engrossed in his work. His dream is to offer a service where clients pay him to guide them through the process of drawing, so that they can recreate the same image he would have drawn for them. This way, he argues, clients can also experience the joy and the satisfaction that comes with drawing.

To refine his craft, Okello usually tries out painting using different styles, materials at his disposal and techniques. His love for painting and work with ceramics has endeared Okello to the community at UCU and beyond. 

Okello painting an art piece
Okello painting an art piece

In March last year, Okello participated in an international visual art competition for tertiary institution students from Uganda and the Nigerian community in Uganda and Nigeria.

A cross-cultural competition was held with the theme “My Impression of Nigeria, My Impression of Uganda.” Ugandan students focused on “My Impression of Nigeria.” while Nigerian participants produced artwork based on the theme, “My Impression of Uganda.”

In the competition, Okello was 22nd out of over 300 competitors from Uganda and received a certificate and drawing materials as a reward.

Currently, Okello devotes his Saturdays to teaching children how to draw and paint.

“It’s these children that I hope to employ in my art gallery in the future,” Okello said. “I want to set up the biggest art gallery in Uganda.” 

From the sale of his art pieces, Okello uses half of the proceeds to support his single mother who brews alcohol for a living. He lost his father in 2007.

Amidst the challenges of struggling to contend with a life with a peasant mother unable to afford his tuition fees, Okello was on the verge of giving up on education at a young age. However, the turning point came when Watoto, an organization that brings hope and healing to vulnerable women and children in Uganda and South Sudan, offered Okello support for his education. He also was given support for basic needs of life. 

Okello says art allows him to tell a “complete” story.
Okello says art allows him to tell a “complete” story.

“Watoto became my new family,” he said. “It was there that I found a sense of belonging and discovered my passion for art.”

Initially, Okello did not take art as a serious discipline. In fact, in A’level, his mind was on pursuing physics as a subject, even though he struggled to comprehend the subject matter. Upon discussing his academic struggles with his mentor, Marvin Ayebare, Okello was advised to drop physics and replace it with art. Okello hesitated, but he eventually gave in. 

As he stepped into the art class, Okello was amazed by the stunning artwork displayed on the walls. He felt unsure of his own abilities and wondered if he could ever create anything as beautiful. After years of sitting in the art class, Okello’s abilities started to match those of the artists whose works were pinned on the wall at the time he joined the class. For instance, some of his art pieces which were his final year project in A’level fetched him money. His first payment for one of the pieces was sh200,000 (about $52). When he received this payment, Okello says he resolved not to drop art. As such, making a decision for his university course became easy.


UCU Empowers Students for Success in the Modern Workspace

By Irene Best Nyapendi

In today’s rapidly evolving job market, transitioning from the academic sphere to professional life can be intimidating. However, equipped with the right guidance and mindset, students can transform this transition into success in the workplace. 

Uganda Christian University (UCU), Kampala Campus, in collaboration with TIG Network Afrika, an organization that stands for purposeful lives, and social development hosted a career development session on February 21 centered on the theme “School to Work Spaces.” 

The event featured distinguished guest speakers who shared insights and advice with UCU students, empowering them to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace.

Among them were notable figures such as the Deputy Inspector General of Government, Dr. Patricia Achan Okiria, Kalungu East Member of Parliament Francis Katabazi, Prof. Maggie Kigozi, a member of the board of Pepsi- Cola in Uganda, Ambassador Damalie Ssali, and Innocent Kawooya, among others.

Throughout the session, students were encouraged to be intentional in their pursuits, to step out of their comfort zones, and to prioritize continuous learning. 

Prof. Maggie Kigozi, a board member of Pepsi-Cola in Uganda, engaging with students during the Career Development session.

As Prof. Maggie Kigozi aptly put it, “If you get a job, remember the many who were left, and they hired you, and aim to be the best employee. Don’t disappoint your employer.”

This emphasis on excellence resonated throughout the event, reminding students of the importance of diligence and commitment in achieving their professional goals.

Ambassador Damalie Ssali, emphasized the significance of habitual excellence, explaining to the students that what they continuously do is what they become. 

“Your habits are the ones that will raise you or pull you down,” she emphasized, highlighting the role of personal discipline in career advancement.

She also urged students to leverage technology and cultivate habits that would set them apart in a competitive job market. 

Drawing from personal experience, the Deputy Inspector General of Government, Dr. Patricia Achan Okiria, emphasized the evolving nature of the workspace, driven by technological advancements. 

She addressed the students, stressing the ongoing transformation of the workspace, propelled by technological advancements. 

Additionally, she emphasised the significance of networking and upholding integrity.

“Hard work is very critical for your reputation,” she said. “But also, networking is a powerful tool for personal growth, especially when paired with hard work.” 

Francis Katabazi, Member of Parliament, Kalungu East, encouraged students to embrace their uniqueness and entrepreneurial spirit. 

Katabazi emphasized the uniqueness of individuals and encouraged daily inspiration from this realization.

“Don’t try to be someone else, everyone is unique in their way,” Katabazi said.

He stressed the importance of problem-solving for financial gain, highlighting the perpetual demand for solutions in various areas such as food, clothing, and shelter. 

Katabazi also shared his experience of starting a business with an initial investment of 120,000 shillings, emphasizing the importance of presenting oneself effectively in all endeavors.

Vivian Arabella Aparo, a second year pursuing a Bachelor of Laws, reflected on the day as one she would forever hold dear and cherish. 

She expressed gratitude for the invaluable lessons gained during the career guidance session, highlighting the impact of being reminded to embrace her individuality and acknowledge her blessings.

“I was deeply moved to embrace my unique qualities because they make me who I am—different, special, and blessed,” Aparo said. “Above all, I internalized the powerful message that my dreams are within reach; if I can envision them, I can manifest them.”

Anita Mirembe Bisagaya, a third-year student pursuing medicine, left the session with the realization that she should treat everyone with respect, regardless of their status. She emphasised the importance of cultivating friendliness towards all.

“My key takeaway from the session was not to despise anyone, because I may never know who will take me where I want to be,” Bisagaya said.

Joel Jessy Kamya, a second-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Laws, took home insights on the significance of innovation and skillfulness in today’s world.

“I came to understand that our contemporary society thrives on individuals who are not only knowledgeable but also innovative and capable of inspiring others,” Kamya said. “Today we have been inspired, and I believe if we are inspired, we can inspire others.”

In the words of Prof. Maggie Kigozi, “There’s nothing you can’t be.” With this empowering message, UCU students are poised to seize the limitless opportunities awaiting them in the dynamic world of work.


Agricultural sciences students empower farmers at field day

By Irene Best Nyapendi
On January 24, farmers around Mukono went to the Uganda Christian University (UCU) main campus with samples of their crops that were affected by pests and diseases. On any other day, these farmers would not have been welcomed with these damaged crops. However, on this Wednesday, in a collaborative exercise,  UCU’s students of agriculture examined diseased crops to establish the different diseases while also offering some tried-and-tested solutions to the farmers. 

Students interacting with farmers in the demonstration gardens.
Students interacting with farmers in the demonstration gardens.

This field day exercise, organized by UCU’s Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, offered a platform where students taught farmers about good management practices at their different demo plots. The plots had crops such as Nakati (solanum Aethiopioum), collard greens, squash, sorghum grass, corn, grain amaranth, spinach and bulb onions. 

The Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Rosemary Bulyaba, explained that for UCU, working with farmers is more than simply an event; it’s a corporate social obligation.

She noted that farmers are important for the livelihood of UCU because the university depends on the food crops they cultivate. 

“If you ate today, it means a farmer grew crops, so farmers are so important to us,” Bulyaba said, noting that agriculture is a practical field, and that students cannot learn everything in class. In the field, they identify emerging diseases and real-life challenges, and come up with solutions.

Last year, third year students of Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship participated in outreach activities in the gardens set up at the university’s demonstration plot. At the outreach, 30 farmers from Bugujju turned up for the event that provided a platform for the exchange of ideas between the students and the farmers. 

The UCU Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Rosemary Bulyaba, addressing farmers.
The UCU Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Rosemary Bulyaba, addressing farmers.

At UCU, agriculture students are trained to be certified plant doctors so that they can identify what’s wrong with plants by simply looking at them.

One of the highlights of the January 24 field day was the plant clinic, where UCU agriculture students diagnosed diseased crops and made recommendations to the farmers, drawing from classroom knowledge. 

Charity Rojo, a fourth-year student of Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship (BASE), is one of the people who examined samples of sick plants brought in for diagnosis.

“For fungal diseases, we looked for leaf spots with concentric rings, and for bacterial diseases, we looked for wet spots,” Rojo explained.

For pests, she said they looked for holes in the leaves, and that if the stem was affected, they looked for boring on the stem. 

According to Rojo, fungal diseases are the most common because they can easily be spread by rain and wind, for example, maize smut which is transported by wind from one maize cob to another.

She advised farmers to maintain good field hygiene and only get seeds for planting from recommended suppliers. 

Mildred Julian Nakanwagi, a field technician within the UCU department of agriculture, takes farmers through the best farming practices of growing onions.
Mildred Julian Nakanwagi, a field technician within the UCU department of agriculture, takes farmers through the best farming practices of growing onions.

Joseph Odongo, a farmer from Kazinga village in Mukono district., said he learned about the option for organic spray for onions, instead of chemicals.

“The students taught me how to make a spray for my onions by mixing ash, red pepper, onions and garlic, and allowing it to ferment,” Odongo explained.

Filda Acan, a small-scale farmer, was happy to discover zucchini, something she said she can grow in her compound. “Today, I saw plants I had never seen in the market. I was excited to learn about zucchini, and I’m, surely, going back to plant it.”

Kefa Othieno, a third-year student of Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship, explained that he was able to get practical experience by interacting with the farmers.

“Today, I’ve been able to apply the knowledge I learned in the classroom to a real-world setting,” Othieno said. 

The students from the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences in the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences also encouraged fellow students and farmers to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Kelly Senoga, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, emphasized that physical size alone doesn’t determine one’s state of health, explaining that both underweight and overweight individuals can face health challenges.

Senoga explained to the students and the farmers that being overweight can lead to obesity, with associated health risks, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. 

The students studying Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Technology also presented to the farmers value-added agricultural products, such as bread made from pumpkin. The bread contains 10% pumpkin and is high in vitamins A and C. 


UCU student narrates journey from homeschool to formal education

By Pauline Luba
For 12 years, Precious Abangira Nimusiima didn’t know what it meant to sit inside a classroom in a formal school setting. From Primary Three until she completed secondary school, Abangira was studying from home under the tutorship of her parents. She has now joined Uganda Christian University (UCU) to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

“I liked the flexibility which came with the homeschooling program.” Abangira, a daughter of missionary parents, said. “If I had to miss for a few days because of trips, it was okay since I didn’t miss school or have the class leave me behind.”

Each morning, Abangira and her brother woke up between 6 and 7 a.m. to do house chores, after which they prepared for class. They would dress up in uniforms and proceed to the section of their home dedicated for classes. The section was equipped with a chalkboard and other essentials necessary in a classroom. 

According to the 21-year-old, a morning devotional prayer was always part of the program before the learning began. She said either of the parents would supervise their learning, depending on who was free that day. The curriculum is a learner-centered discovery method of learning.

Part of what Abangira learned included Bible studies, mathematics, English and grammar, science and history for their primary education and subjects such as geography, government, Literature and Economics once they joined secondary school. While the classes did not include extra curricular activities, Abangira often participated in sports and music. In the case of the Christian Liberty Academy homeschooling system, which Abangira was using, the parents of the children supervise them on a day-to-day basis, and then grade their work. The final grading and certification is done at the school campus in the USA.

Abangira was also part of a group for homeschooled children that often met once a week to socialize with other children, especially those in the same program. 

Homeschooling has not been a common practice in Uganda. However, it gained popularity during the 2020-2021 lockdown of schools in Uganda, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

In 2011, before many Ugandans got exposed to this form of education, parents of Abangira decided to homeschool their children as a result of their exposure to the system, which to them resonated with the family values they espouse. Francis and Allen Mutatiina, who serve with LIFE Ministry Uganda/, often travel to spread the word of God. Abangira says her parents would travel both within and beyond Uganda. 

Kenya and Rwanda are some of the countries the Mutatiinas traveled to as a family. As such, the couple, now married for 23 years, would easily supervise their children’s education everywhere they went.

And the Mutatiinas knew that their homeschooling model was biblical. In addition to increased  time parents spent with their children in their formative years, Abangira’s parents also often found justification for homeschooling in Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Abangira now says some of the practices they often followed at home have remained ingrained in her way of life. She remembers the family always “sitting together, reading and studying the Bible” as part of the homeschool curriculum. This habit is still very much alive in the family, and in the life of Abangira.

Having accessed, used and taught herself computer-related information from the age of 10, Abangira now hopes to further that knowledge by acquiring a professional qualification as an Artificial Intelligence expert. 

UCU Abangira’s Journey: From Medicine to Computer Technology

Shockingly, during her formative years, a profession in computer technology was not anywhere among her priorities. She desired a course in human medicine. However, a few years ago, one of Abangira’s friends was diagnosed with cancer. As part of the treatment, the patient’s leg had to be amputated. Abangira says witnessing her friend struggle to buy prosthetics for his leg made her rethink the course to pursue at university. 

She now hopes that with added computer knowledge, she will be able to contribute to the development of more affordable robotics, especially for people living with disabilities. 


‘We’ve been created to be in each other’s lives’

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Millie Mercy Namikka is outgoing and composed. Committed to social justice, she often finds herself advocating for the marginalized. This virtue has enabled Namikka to make many friends, both in her community and at school. 

“You always find her freely interacting with people in her environment,” Hannington Kikulwe, Namikka’s father, says. “At home, she helps the workers with their chores and also buys them gifts.” Namikka says she learned service and contribution virtues from her parents. Kukulwe was an evangelist, and his wife, a reverend.

Namikka ready to ride her bicycle to her hall of residence during her time in the Netherlands.
Namikka ready to ride her bicycle to her hall of residence during her time in the Netherlands.

It was, therefore, not surprising, when Namikka chose to pursue a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration at Uganda Christian University (UCU). And that choice for a course eventually presented an opportunity for Namikka to travel out of the country for her very first time in February 2022. She returned to Uganda in August of the same year.

She was part of the eight students that UCU was sending to Hanze University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands for a resume-building exchange program and international exposure. The collaboration between UCU and Hanze is a conduit for cross-cultural exchange, fostering not only academic growth but also personal transformation for both students and lecturers.

Over 30 students have benefitted from this initiative. Dutch students and the faculty also have visited Uganda for field work in agencies in the country. 

“I felt so lucky that I was leaving the country and what amazed me was the fact that I did not have to pay any money,” Namikka says, noting that when her friends learned of her imminent trip, they organized a get-together. 

Once in the Netherlands, Namikka says it was not easy adjusting to the food and the cost. But she eventually did. With her friends, they pooled resources and started buying food in bulk, sharing costs, and sometimes traveling to Amsterdam to enjoy local food. Her diet also changed from bread sandwiches to pasta, Irish food, and more vegetables. This new way of eating has stuck with her to date. 

Namikka in the vintage jacket and boots she bought in the flea market during the King’s Day
Namikka in the vintage jacket and boots she bought in the flea market during the King’s Day

One memorable experience for Namikka was attending the King’s Day in the Netherlands. Marked every April 27, the day is a national holiday and celebrates King Willem-Alexander’s birthday with lots of music, dancing, flea markets and fun fair. 

“Two days before and after the actual day, it felt like a big holiday. People sold things from their homes at reduced prices, and the streets were full of parties,” she said. “I was shocked, seeing everyone wearing orange, and others selling their items. But I used that opportunity to buy vintage boots and a lot of vintage clothes and items for friends at the flea markets.”

For her classes at Hanze University, they didn’t just stick to theories; they dived into real-life situations. One of her favorite courses was creating and sharing happiness and positive coaching techniques. Every day, they would talk about their day — what went well, what didn’t. It was like a daily life check-in.

This made her realize that life is a mix of little moments. Now, she shares this wisdom with people in her shared workspace. She tells them to live the moment, be aware of how they feel, and focus on their journey of recovery, not the past. 

UCU-Hanze Collaboration Promotes Cross-Cultural Knowledge

Namikka during one of her outreach programs at Teens Challenge Uganda
Namikka during one of her outreach programs at Teens Challenge Uganda

Kasule Kibirige, the UCU head of department of Social Works and Social Administration, said the partnership between UCU and Hanze has been immensely valuable for both students and faculty.

 “They promote cross-cultural knowledge and skills sharing, and contribute to individual teaching and learning improvement,” he explained. He added that this collaboration fosters the development of academic networks through regular meetings during guest lecture exchanges.

Namikka currently works with Teen Challenge Uganda, a Christian rehabilitation facility. Here, her responsibilities include reaching out to children, schools, those in brothels and slums, creating support groups and offering counseling, therapy, discipleship, Bible study and awareness on addiction. 

Her desire to mend broken hearts and help people learn from their experiences fuels her ambition to become a counseling psychologist. She hopes to return to school to pursue a master’s degree in that field.

“We’ve been created to be in each other’s lives, and sometimes when we are in each other’s lives, we hurt each other and we don’t know how to mend the broken hearts,” Namikka says. The 24-year-old envisions building a career in helping individuals triumph over trauma, grief, and life’s challenges, witnessing them thrive and embrace the joys of life.


Asiimwe: Our parents inspired us to work hard

By Pauline Luba
Love. Service. Prayer. Hard work. These four are virtues that Ugandan parents Gideon and Charity Rutaremwa instilled in their children, with the hope that they would become useful citizens later in life. In addition to drumming up those virtues, the children say they further learned a lot more, just by observing how their parents conducted themselves.

“I am always inspired by the way my mother interacts with people,” said Asiimwe Ruth, a student of Uganda Christian University (UCU).

Asiimwe chatting with other students in the exchange program.
Asiimwe chatting with other students in the exchange program.

Perhaps, it was this inspiration that drove Asiimwe into choosing Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration at UCU. Asiimwe’s mother, now in retirement, was a social worker, and worked at Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development. 

Asiimwe attended Kampala Junior Academy for her primary education and Mengo Senior Secondary School for her Senior One. She was then taken to World of Life International School for the remainder of her high school education. 

After World of Life International School, she had intended to pursue undergraduate studies from a university abroad. That did not work. When she opted for UCU, her heart was with a Bachelor of Laws. That, too, did not work. By the time she applied, UCU had already admitted its law quota for the semester. Asiimwe picked herself up and accepted the offer of Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration as she set out to follow in the footsteps of her mother.

Asiimwe says she will not leave the classroom until she has earned a PhD in social work.
Asiimwe says she will not leave the classroom until she has earned a PhD in social work.

In 2018, an opportunity to travel to the Netherlands was presented to her. She embraced it right away. UCU was implementing a collaborative venture that it had signed with the Hanze University of Applied Science, Groningen, NetherlandsThe partnership involves having an exchange program for the students and faculty of the two universities. 

The trip to the Netherlands for a six-month stay had been scheduled for August 2018. Kasule Kibirige, the head of the Department of Social Work and Social Administration at UCU, made the announcement to Asiimwe’s class, indicating that all applicants had to have a minimum of 4.0 of a 5.0 Grade Point Average. The applicants also were expected to have access to funds to help them sort out any emergencies. Asiimwe applied and was successful. 

“It was my first time traveling alone and the trip was a process of self-discovery,” she said.

However, this was not Asiimwe’s first trip abroad. She had spent her childhood years in Philadelphia, Pa., USA, during the time her father was pursuing a PhD course.

 “I was excited to finally travel,” she said of the Netherlands opportunity.  “The disappointment for not traveling for my undergrad studies had really affected me.”

In the Netherlands, many ride bicycles as a means of transport. And that was the case with Asiimwe’s colleagues. However, Asiimwe often preferred the bus because she did not know how to ride a bicycle.

At the end of the six months, the students on the exchange program, hailing from several countries, including Turkey and United States, gathered on an emotional last night in the Netherlands to toast to the friendship that the 18 women and one man had created out of the program. 

Asiimwe celebrated Christmas in the Netherlands.
Asiimwe celebrated Christmas in the Netherlands.

Over 30 students have benefitted from this initiative. Dutch students and the faculty also have visited Uganda for field work in agencies in the country. 

Kasule said the partnership between UCU and Hanze has been immensely valuable for both students and faculty. 

“They promote cross-cultural knowledge and skills sharing, and contribute to individual teaching and learning improvement,” he explained. 

In 2019, Asiimwe was a recipient of the Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration of UCU. In 2020, she was back at UCU, to pursue a Master of Social Work. And she says she will not leave the classroom, until she has earned a PhD in social work.  

For the virtue of hard work that the Rutaremwas instilled in their children, they have been able to reap some benefits. Asiimwe is a social worker, her elder sister is a medical doctor and her younger brother is about to complete his degree in mechanical engineering at a university in Ohio, USA.

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