By Pauline Luba
UCU graduate Christine Wanyana envisioned herself as a lawyer in her early life. However, all this was before she interacted with her Senior Four teacher of Biology, who saw her gifts with science. The year was 2016.
According to Wanyana, her teacher reasoned that it would be easier for her to study medicine because she was excelling in Biology. She followed her teacher’s advice and, on July 28, 2023, Wanyana was among the 45 pioneer students of the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery course who graduated from Uganda Christian University (UCU).
“The major challenge with being a pioneer student in a course is there is so much uncertainty and, sometimes, that can be frustrating,” Wanyana said. She and her colleagues were admitted for the course in 2018.
She explained that at 16 years when she made the choice to study medicine, she had assessed the impact she wanted to make in the world.
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“I believed that with it (pursuing a career in medicine), I could touch so many lives and be the change I wanted to see in the community and in the health system,” said the 24-year-old, who studied at Kampala Parents School for primary, Mt. St. Mary’s College Namagunga for O’level and Uganda Martyrs Secondary School Namugongo for A’level. All the three schools are located in central Uganda.
For those who know Wanyana’s family well, the choice of medicine as a career was not a surprise. Wanyana’s father, Henry Kajumbula, is a medical doctor. Her mother, Abalo Caroline, is a pharmacist. Her grandfather, too, was a medical doctor and so are many of her uncles.
Wanyana Reflects on her journey at UCU
As a student at the UCU School of Medicine, Wanyana says the disruptions caused by the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic were a setback to the momentum she had created soon after joining the school. Beyond the clinical aspects, the School of Medicine emphasizes mandatory community engagement programs, to enable the students to reach out to the sick. The approach is intended to cultivate character and instill empathy in future doctors. However, for some time, community outreaches were suspended at the UCU School of Medicine, in line with maintaining a social distance, a standard operating procedure in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Wanyana says because of the intense nature of studies at medical school, she found herself losing touch with many of her old friends. However, she is happy with the satisfaction that a career in medicine brings. During the time of the placements in hospitals, she says, work would at times get monotonous. However, the news of a successful delivery of a baby or reverting a patient’s medical condition for the better always brought smiles on the faces of the medical teams. She says there were sometimes patients got admitted when many thought they would not survive the sickness, but that such people often brought joy when they were being discharged.
Now that she has completed school, Wanyana is supposed to undergo a one-year mandatory internship in a government facility in Uganda under the supervision of a senior health practitioner. It’s upon the expiry of the internship that she will be eligible for employment as a doctor in Uganda. Wanyana eyes a future as a reproductive endocrinologist — a medical doctor with training to help women become and stay pregnant.
Wanyana also runs a home bakery, where she sells cakes and doughnuts. She says she enjoys chores that make her put her hands into good use. As a student, much of the money she used for upkeep was from the sale of her cakes. At some point, she says the orders she got increased the workload, that she had to turn down some, in order for the bakery business not to stand in the way of her studies.
Whatever she does, Wanyana says she draws inspiration from Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”