By Michael Kisekka
Sh500,000 (about $140). That was the amount of money standing between Alvin Masagazi and his degree at Uganda Christian University (UCU). And Masagazi was not even aware that the debt existed. Unaware of a problem, he was preparing for graduation.
“I was bewildered about how this had happened because I thought all my tuition was covered fully,” Masagazi, who joined UCU’s nursing program in 2017, says. “I couldn’t believe my name was not on the graduation list.”
He was even more shocked with the debt because he was on a government scholarship scheme that was meant to cover his tuition for all four years that he was to spend at the university. Somehow, he had the debt. And he had to pay it.
“I desperately needed the money, but my parents were not financially stable at the time the graduation lists were released,” Masagazi says, adding that he did not have anyone else to help secure the money.
Masagazi’s hope was fading; his heart was breaking. His parents were not in a position to rescue him. Then, a friend told him about the United States-based UCU Partners, a non-profit charitable organization committed to raising support for UCU programs, services, staff and students. The UCU Financial Aid Office had advertised about how the NGO could help, calling for applications from students who were due for graduation, but were financially distressed and had outstanding tuition balances.
When he applied for the tuition top-up, Masagazi was successful. On October 22, 2021, he joined 24 other people to receive the Bachelor of Nursing Science degree at UCU’s 22nd graduation ceremony.
He says the kind of generosity displayed by UCU Partners is something he wants to play out in his own life.
“When God grants me the resources, I also aspire to do the same for students who find themselves caught up in similar circumstances,” he said.
With the degree, Masagazi is confident he will be able to fulfill his passion of “saving lives”
at the health facilities where he will serve while supporting himself and a family. First, he does a mandatory one-year internship program in a hospital.
“I am really excited and optimistic for what the future holds for me,” he said.
During his four-year academic journey at UCU, Masagazi practiced photography and was a student leader in charge of health in the university (2019).
“My love for nursing and helping people got me into that position in the cabinet and I worked hard to help and improve the health services during my term of office,” he says.
Masagazi is the firstborn of four children of Sam Lwanga and Christine Itetsire. He was born and raised in Gayaza, central Uganda. He attended City Parents School and Mugwanya Preparatory School for his primary education and then Buddo Secondary School for his secondary education. All three schools are found in central Uganda.
For the six years at Buddo, for both O’level and A’level, Masagazi was on a scholarship because of his talent in music and sports.