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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 Cardinals Set to Participate in the East African University Games

Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) football team, known as the Cardinals, recently finished as first runners-up in the University Football League (UFL) season 2023/2024. This impressive feat not only confirms their reputation as one of the top contenders but also earns them a place in the upcoming East African University Games, which are scheduled to take place in December 2024. This event will be held either in Kenya or Tanzania, actual venue is yet to be confirmed and announced.

The UFL finals took place on the 20th of April 2024 at the MTN Omondi Stadium in Lugogo, Kampala Uganda with UCU Cardinals playing with Nkumba University. Despite facing several early setbacks, UCU displayed resilience throughout the match.

Just 21 minutes into the game, UCU faced a huge setback after their goalkeeper John Collins Wesonga was sent out with a direct red card for handling the ball outside the box, leaving UCU with a numerical disadvantage.

Early in second half, Sharif Ssewanyana’s excellent free-kick provided a glimmer of hope for UCU.

However, in an unexpected turn of events, Nkumba emerged victorious, clinching the UFL championship for the first time in history with a resounding 3-1 victory over UCU. Nonetheless, in 2019, UCU won the UFL championship.

To reach the UFL final, UCU had to navigate a tense semi-final against Makerere University Business School (MUBS), which ended in a 1-0 victory. In the quarterfinals, they faced stiff competition from Makerere University, which ended in a 1-0 win.

As UCU prepares to participate in the East African University Games, they are well-positioned to leverage their experience, skill, and determination to register a mark on the regional stage. The Cardinals are poised to showcase their talent and represent UCU with pride in the upcoming tournament, with their eyes set on achieving success and bringing glory to UCU.

We all wish the UCU Cardinals the very best.

Compiled By: Irene Best Nyapendi
Edited By: Harriet Adong, Consultant at UCU’s Communication and Public Relations Department
Photos By: Andrew Bugembe

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Team UCU entering the MTN Omondi Stadium.
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UCU Cardinals warming up to play the finals with Nkumba University.
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Collins Wesonga, UCU Cardinals goal keeper before receiving a red card in the 21st minute of the game.
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Elton Mwidu, UCU Goal keeper who substituted Collins Wesonga.
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The battle between UCU Cardinals and the Beach Boys (Nkumba University footballers).
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UCU Supporters cheering up the cardinals.
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Team UCU celebrating their first call goal by Sharif Ssewanyana.
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Team UCU at the MTN Omondi Stadium.
UCU

PICTORIAL: UCU to start Coffee Club, hosts UCDA officials to train student Coffee barristers

Uganda Christian University (UCU) students have started a Coffee Club and hub to promote the culture of coffee drinking. The effort has been possible with the support of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA) whose officials paid a visit to the UCU Incubation Hub, on April 22, 2024.

The UCDA officials provided barista training for the prospective UCU Coffee Club members.

The initiative is expected to lead to the official launch of the UCU Coffee Club, which is a student-centred organization dedicated to promoting coffee-drinking culture.

Richard Miiro Mutebi, the Vice President of the UCU guild, expressed gratitude to UCDA for providing students with valuable insights into the coffee value chain. “ We appreciate the great enlightenment you have offered us on the coffee value chain. The maiden barista training on the process of making lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos is one that we shall always cherish.”

A pictorial of the event is presented below.

Compiled by: Irene Best Nyapendi

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UCU Coffee Club Members together with the team from UCDA.
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Richard Miiro Mutebi prepares to taste the flavors of coffee at the UCU Incubation Hub.
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UCU Coffee Club Members brimming with excitement to taste the coffee.
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UCU Coffee Club Members share a light moment with the team from UCDA
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One of the UCU Coffee Club Members.
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UCU Coffee Club Members together with the team from UCDA.
UCU

‘We only treat… it’s God who heals’

By Irene Best Nyapendi
The first time Victoria Nantambi had a ward round, she was with a team of three other nurses. Together, they were entrusted with the task of treating an elderly woman who was suffering from a lung infection.

The woman also had an open ulcer. Although this was Nantambi’s first time working in a hospital, she did her best to help the woman. By evening, the patient’s condition had improved. 

At 4 p.m. Nantambi, a final-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Nursing Science at Uganda Christian University (UCU), happily went home. When she returned the following day, she eagerly inquired about the status of her patient. The bed was empty. The patient had died. 

“The death of my patient struck me, but also taught me that we only treat, and it’s God who heals,” she said. “We do our best to save lives, but the outcomes are not ours to determine.”

For such experiences, Nantambi says: “Nursing keeps me on my toes and that’s what I love about it.”

She says in order for students to garner as much experience as possible, they are always on the move, visiting different hospitals to get a feel of the operations there. 

When it comes time for clinical rotations, they go to the hospital with objectives to achieve while applying the theory they learned in class. While there, they are supervised and have responsibilities dictated by their course unit and objectives.

Nantambi’s recent clinical practice at Mukono General Hospital was on safe motherhood and maternal health. She was tasked with assisting mothers in the labor suite, antenatal and postnatal wards.

However, she feared helping HIV-positive mothers to deliver because of the risk of infection.

On one of her days at Mukono General Hospital, they received an emergency. She quickly prepared the necessary equipment to assist the mother in delivering. During the process, the mother gushed out a lot of amniotic fluid, but Nantambi continued with the delivery process, albeit cautiously. It was after the delivery, that she checked the mother’s antenatal card and discovered that she was HIV-positive. 

“I was worried about contracting HIV due to her excessive discharge,” Nantambi said. “However, I tested negative and the experience helped me know more about HIV.” 

HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is passed on through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal mucus and breast milk and only outside the body if the uninfected person has broken skin.  At that, such person-to-person transmission is rare. 

For the days she works in the labor suite, Nantambi starts by cleaning the area, then assesses the condition of the women in labor, as well as assisting during delivery.

“Working in the labor suite has taught me that patients’ lives depend on the nurses. We have to be fully alert and attentive,” Nantambi said.

After spending the day attending to patients’ needs, scrutinizing and administering medications, conferring with senior nurses, she finally gets to report to the nurse in charge before she retires for the day. 

One of the most rewarding experiences for her is witnessing the recovery of her patients, and subsequently receiving expressions of gratitude from them. Nursing involves touching lives. It gives Nantambi immense joy when her patients call to thank her for treating them. 

UCU Erick Rwamurenzi

Erick Rwamurenzi
Erick Rwamurenzi

When Rwamurenzi, a UCU student of Bachelor of Nursing Science, was 17, he got an injury while playing football. He said at the hospital, the nurse seemed too afraid to work on him that he wondered if she treated all patients the same way. This experience ignited a passion in him to care for patients.

“I prayed to God to help me become the person that will help people,” he says. 

Rwamurenzi and his colleague nursing students reach the hospital by 8 a.m. and start their day with ward rounds and drug administration, and, later, post-conference discussions to share experiences and discuss what they saw in the wards. 

During one of his days in the hospital, he attended to a 35-year-old woman who had been pregnant nine times, but had only given birth to five babies at full term. The rest were miscarriages. The day before, she had undergone a cesarean section, but due to strong uterine contractions, she experienced a severe uterine rupture that resulted in the loss of her uterus. Unfortunately, she was also HIV-positive, epileptic, and had lost her husband only a month before. 

Despite her condition, Rwamurenzi did his best to save both the mother and the baby. He administered fluids, antibiotics, and offered psychological support. He monitored them and was happy to see them improve and be discharged from the hospital.

The most satisfying part of being a nursing student, according to the 27-year-old, is when he helps patients heal and they call to say thank you. The other part is the amount of assistance they get from the nursing administration that helps them find their footing in the hospital operations.

Rwamurenzi narrates that one of the challenges he has faced as a nursing student is when some senior health professionals on the wards do not want to engage with them in the name of being busy. However, he notes that clinical practices are vital as they provide nursing skills and enable them to familiarize with the hospital environment. 

UCU

Amoit: From daddy’s to the world’s engineer

By Kefa Senoga
Long ago, when a television set malfunctioned at the home of Okolong Charles, his daughter, Faith Codrine Amoit, embarked on a mission to repair it. Although she did not get it to perform its function again, Okolong was convinced his daughter would perform well in an engineering career. 

He started calling her “my engineer.”   

The title, “my engineer,” Amoit says, inspired her to pursue a course of her father’s wish. Fortunately for her, she loved science. Because she was fascinated by buildings, Amoit says she opted to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Uganda Christian University (UCU), from where she graduated in 2018. 

Her father is deceased, but Amoit continues to keep his dream of an engineer daughter alive.

Amoit during her graduation in the UK
Amoit during her graduation in the UK

The knowledge she garnered at UCU was essential during her 2019-2022 work as Junior Civil Engineer at Dar-Al-Handasah, a global consultancy firm providing design, planning, engineering, sustainability consulting, digital solutions and services, and project management. Dar-Al-Handasah work connects to buildings, cities, transportation, civil infrastructure, water and the environment. During those three years, Amoit was part of the team working on the upgrade and expansion of Entebbe International Airport in Uganda.

Even though she was consistently ranked among the top five students in her course while at UCU, Amoit says things were difficult and that she was “just trying to survive,” not to excel.  She has soldiered on, specialising in the field of structural engineering. From September 2022 to September 2023, Amoit, who is passionate about structural dynamics, was a Chevening Scholar at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom (UK), where she pursued an MSc in Structural Engineering. 

The Chevening scholarship is intended to attract outstanding emerging leaders from all over the world to pursue one-year master’s degrees in the UK. 

“There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ Chevening Scholar, but those who are successful tend to have ambition, leadership qualities, and a passion for influencing positive change in their home countries,” reads a description of the scholarship on their website

The course, according to Amoit, covered critical issues like seismic design, design optimisation, steel and concrete design. 

“My favourite module was the structural design project, which involved the design of the North Stand of the Elland Road football stadium,” she wrote on LinkedIn. The Elland Road is the home of England Championship club Leeds United.

“The study compared the structural systems based on lateral displacement as an effect of wind, cost and carbon footprint,” she wrote, adding that such knowledge is essential for structural engineers when designing buildings of different heights at the conceptual stage. Her dissertation work involved learning how to use software and robotics simulation. 

Since her return from the UK in January this year, Amoit has been involved in private work, helping to produce structural drawings and plans for clients.

UCU’s Amoit Inspires Girls in Engineering, Breaking Stereotypes

Amoit says she would love to be the beacon of hope in the engineering field dominated by men. She wishes to affirm to young women that pursuing a course in engineering is possible. Currently, she is mentoring some girls to interest them into the field of engineering.

“When different groups approach me to seek advice and talk to girls, I willingly take up those spaces to offer encouragement and support to them.”

Amoit also takes advantage of another platform — Rotaract, a not-for-profit service organisation — where she is actively involved, to continue mentoring girls through the Rotaract Ladies Initiative. 

“We used to go to different parts of the country every year to empower young women into making things like sanitary towels and equipping them with different skills like crocheting, tailoring, to help them generate income.”

Amoit attended Shimoni Demonstration School for her primary education, St Maria Goretti Katende for O’level and St Mary’s Secondary School, Kitende for A’level. All the three schools are located in central Uganda.

UCU

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. 

UCU

UCU researchers seek to multiply bamboo production for more benefits

By Pauline Luba
Micropropagation refers to the growing of plants in closed vessels that contain culture media with nutrients and growth regulators. Since the plants are grown in glass, they are described as in vitro, as opposed to in vivo plants that are grown in soil.  

Knowing the multiple benefits and uses of the bamboo plant, Winnie Namutosi, a Uganda Christian University (UCU) alum and lecturer, and her co-researchers are currently in the laboratory in a bid to micropropagate this member of the grass family, using a growth medium that has nutrients and hormones.

To produce the micro propagated plants, clear protocols are needed. These protocols are not yet known, and that is what Namutosi and her colleague researchers— Prof. William Kisaalita, Joel Karama and Joseph Galiwango  — are attempting to develop. Namutosi also has worked with UCU academics and researchers Bulyaba Rosemary, Nakanwangi Mildred Julian, Buteme Ruth, Sseremba Godfrey and Kizito Elizabeth Balyejusa to decipher the reproductive barriers that hinder improvement of African eggplants. The study findings were published in Euphytica under the title “Compatibility Barriers affecting Crossability of Solanum aethiopicum and its relatives” 

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Specimens of bamboo multiplication in the laboratory

It is no surprise that Namutosi is part of the group that is developing the bamboo tissue culture protocols. She comes from Sironko district in eastern Uganda, where smoked bamboo shoots are one of the staple foods. Locally known as malewa, the staple was originally served as a complete meal, but was later transformed into sauce, prepared with simsim paste or peanut butter. 

Bamboo shoots, which are eaten like vegetables, are a source of protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins E and C. It also can be burned for fuel, taking pressure off dwindling forest reserves of eucalyptus and other natural resources. 

But Namutosi is looking beyond just the malewa that bamboo provides. For her master’s research, she focused on the study of improving crops (African eggplants). It was then that she realized how charcoal is a major source of fuel in many households in Uganda. However, it is that great need for charcoal that has conspired with other factors to lead to deforestation in the country.

Namutosi believes that the bamboo plant can help to reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere, hence mitigating the effects of climatic change.
Namutosi believes that the bamboo plant can help to reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere, hence mitigating the effects of climatic change.

“When you look at the environment, it needs to be conserved,” said Namutosi, who has experience in plant breeding and agricultural research.

The wood asset in Uganda reduced by 45 per cent between 1990 and 2015, from 355.5 million to 197.1 million tons. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, after an initial 4 per cent increase in wood biomass between 1990 and 2000, the national stock suffered a significant reduction of 42.5 percent between 2000 and 2005. Despite a modest 3 percent recovery between 2005 and 2010, the aggregate stock fell by another 9 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Uganda’s total forest land area was 4.93 million hectares (12.2 million acres) in 1990, which decreased by 60 percent to 1.95 million hectares (4.8 million acres) by 2015, according to the Ugandan government statistics. However, by 2023, the forest cover had shown a reversal in the trajectory, improving by four percentage points. 

Namutosi and colleagues are now exploring possibilities of large-scale production of bamboo so it can serve the high demand for wood from charcoal burners. Bamboo is a fast-growing plant and easily adapts to many weather conditions. A hectare (2.47 acres) of a bamboo plantation is said to absorb more than 60 tons of carbon dioxide per annum, which is 30 percent more than the case with other plants. Bamboo is said to release more oxygen to the atmosphere than other plants. As such, Namutosi believes that the plant will help to reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere, hence mitigating the effects of climatic change.

The second born of eight siblings, Namutosi is a daughter of farmer parents — Patrick and Olivia Nabitu. She attended Mahempe Primary School in Sironko district and Bugisu High School in Mbale for both O’level and A’level. In 2015, she joined UCU, where she obtained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship. After doing research on animals for her undergraduate, Namutosi opted to focus on crop improvement for her master’s research, graduating with a Master of Science in Agriculture. She is currently an assistant lecturer and a researcher at UCU. 

UCU

American at UCU to receive honorary doctorate from Dartmouth

The honorary degree recipients at Dartmouth’s June 9 Commencement will be, clockwise from top left: Roger Federer, the Commencement speaker; Mira Murati, Thayer ’12; Paul Nakasone; Richard Ranger ’74; Roy Vagelos; Mung Chiang; Joy Buolamwini; Liz Cheney; and, center, John Urschel.

Dartmouth College, of Hanover, New Hampshire, USA, has announced that it will award Richard Ranger, missionary lecturer in Business and Law at Uganda Christian University (UCU), an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters at the College’s 253rd Commencement on June 9.

Each year, a member of the Dartmouth 50th reunion class is chosen to receive this award in recognition of service to the Dartmouth community and the broader world. Richard, a member of Dartmouth’s Class of 1974 that will celebrate its 50th Reunion in June, has been selected for this year’s honor.

Richard Ranger with members of the 2022 UCU-Dartmouth solar water heating project team (Phase 1). From left are Shalom Mukami, UCU Engineering ‘23; Veronica Yarovinsky, Dartmouth ’24; Richard; Daniel Tumusiime UCU Engineering ’22; Dr. Stephen Doig, faculty advisor and Senior Research and Strategy Advisor at the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and Dartmouth ’82, Dartmouth ’24; Noah Daniel, Dartmouth ‘23; Ethan Aulwes, Dartmouth ’22.
Richard Ranger with members of the 2022 UCU-Dartmouth solar water heating project team (Phase 1). From left are Shalom Mukami, UCU Engineering ‘23; Veronica Yarovinsky, Dartmouth ’24; Richard; Daniel Tumusiime UCU Engineering ’22; Dr. Stephen Doig, faculty advisor and Senior Research and Strategy Advisor at the Irving Institute for Energy and Society, and Dartmouth ’82, Dartmouth ’24; Noah Daniel, Dartmouth ‘23; Ethan Aulwes, Dartmouth ’22.

Each year prospective honorary degree recipients—scholars, artists, innovators, public servants, philanthropists, and others who have made extraordinary contributions to their respective fields and society at large—are nominated by members of the Dartmouth community. The confidential nominations are reviewed by the Council on Honorary Degrees, which selects the honorands in consultation with the president and the Board of Trustees.

In addition to Richard Ranger, this year’s recipients are: 

  • Joy Buolamwini, a computer scientist, artist, and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League;
  • Liz Cheney, former U.S. representative from Wyoming and vice chair of the House Jan. 6 committee;
  • Mung Chiang, president of Purdue University;
  • Commencement speaker Roger Federer, philanthropist and former tennis champion;
  • Mira Murati, Thayer ’12, chief technology officer of OpenAI;
  • Paul Nakasone, retired director of the National Security Agency and commander, U.S. Cyber Command;
  • John Urschel, a mathematician and former Baltimore Ravens guard; and 
  • Roy Vagelos, philanthropist and retired chairman and CEO of Merck & Co. and retired chairman of Regeneron

At UCU along with his wife, Catherine, Richard serves as a missionary with the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS), based in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, USA. Prior to coming to UCU in 2020, Richard spent 43 years as a negotiator, environmental compliance manager, and community and government relations specialist in the oil and gas industry in the western United States, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. From that background, he now lectures in business and law at UCU. Dartmouth’s announcement describes this second career as reflecting “his lifelong commitment to service, his faith, and his sense of adventure.”

“I am humbled beyond belief at this award,” Richard says. “As many who know me know, I am deeply loyal to Dartmouth and to the education that I was blessed with there, and the gift of so many friendships from the Dartmouth community. As someone who has served my class as its Newsletter Editor for some 40 years, I know the many stories of achievement, character, and conscience that distinguish our class. Such a recognition could easily have gone to any of a number of my classmates and have been richly deserved. That it is coming to me is a gift beyond measure.”

Catherine and Richard Ranger during a July 2023 trip to Biharamulo and Maleba, Tanzania
Catherine and Richard Ranger during a July 2023 trip to Biharamulo and Maleba, Tanzania

Richard adds: “As a missionary, I’m also very conscious of the fact that it’s a rare missionary who is awarded an honorary degree. The four years we have spent in the company of people serving in mission and serving the needs of a broken world in so many ways have introduced us not just to colleagues, but to true heroes. I’m reminded of this every day here at UCU, which was initially founded by a missionary minister as a seminary, who got here to Uganda by walking from the Indian Ocean coast.”

At UCU, alongside UCU colleagues, Richard has taught Corporate Governance and Business Ethics in the School of Business, and Oil and Gas Law in the Faculty of Law. 

Along with Catherine, Richard has served as a mentor for individual students. Together they host a weekly cell fellowship from the patio of their campus Tech Park apartment. And for the past two years, Richard has served as site coordinator for installation of a solar thermal water heating system for the campus dining hall – a joint effort by engineering students from Dartmouth and from UCU. 

Richard Ranger lecturing in the UCU Corporate Governance and Business Ethics course for the Accounting and Finance students, 2023
Richard Ranger lecturing in the UCU Corporate Governance and Business Ethics course for the Accounting and Finance students, 2023

 “To have seen students from the two universities work together and build together across frontiers of distance and culture is simply the most rewarding job I have ever had,” Richard said. 

As a person of faith, he gives any glory for the Dartmouth award to God,  adding appreciation for the opportunity to serve at UCU. 

“Not everyone is in such a position,” he said.  “Our hope is that the highlighting of our story through the award Dartmouth is giving me will lead others to ask whether and how they might serve. Because it’s possible – and because in a broken world our hearts, hands, and talents are needed.”

Richard said he is “blessed to be able to do this work in a place that I love, in the company of the woman I love, among Ugandan friends”  in a place that “challenges us to learn every day.”

“To have an honorary degree from my alma mater on top of all of that is an incredible blessing,” he said. 

UCU

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

No more stains for girls in northeastern Uganda

By Irene Best Nyapendi
At Kalotom Primary School in northeastern Uganda, Patricia (full identity withheld) started her menstrual cycle with no knowledge what the blood discharge was about and that it had stained her skirt. The girl, age 14, was not only confused but shattered emotionally by classmates who mocked her. 

Gerald Emmanuel Abura, the brains behind the “Pad a Girl” initiative
Gerald Emmanuel Abura, the brains behind the “Pad a Girl” initiative

“I was in class when I heard the girls and boys laughing at me, saying my dress was stained,” Patricia said. “I didn’t know. When I saw the blood, I felt embarrassed. Tears just flowed down my cheeks.”

At home, Patricia’s mother says she has no money to buy her daughter sanitary pads. As a result, the teen resorts to catching the discharge with old pieces of cloth. On days when the flow is too heavy, she stays away from school, hence missing class. 

Patricia is not alone. Hers is a story of many. 

Elizabeth (full identity withheld), a Senior Four student at St. Daniel Comboni in Napak District, also uses old pieces of cloth.   

On days when Elizabeth runs out of cloth, she relies on more frequent bathing. Additionally, for her, this first period marked the onset of a battle against cultural pressure to be a woman – get married, have babies. This, she is told, is a solution to the embarrassment of bleeding and no money to afford pads.

To finance her education but not pads, Elizabeth brews and sells local alcohol.

“My friends always tell me to get a boyfriend who will buy me pads,” Elizabeth said. “Sometimes it gets really hard and it hurts when I don’t have any spare clothes to use.” 

Students of Matany Primary listening to the UCU team
Students of Matany Primary listening to the UCU team

Lillian, a pupil at Matany Primary School in Napak, has relied on pieces of cloth from her mother’s old bed sheets every time she’s in her periods.  When the periods of the 16-year-old start unexpectedly at school, she ties a sweater around her waist and immediately returns home. 

The stories of Lillian, Elizabeth and Patricia exemplify the silent suffering of many adolescent girls for whom poverty denies the basic dignity of menstrual hygiene.

A 2020 report by Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports says one out of every four girls aged 12 to 18 drops out of school upon the onset of menstruation, leading to the increase in absenteeism rates from 7% to 28% during their menstrual cycle.

Jackline Atim, the Deputy Headteacher of Matany Primary School, is a witness to the harsh reality faced by adolescent girls.

“It is a common thing here for girls to lack pads,” Atim said. “Desperation drives some of them to consider dropping out.”

However, amidst this suffering, somehow, Good

A pupil shows off a pad she received from the UCU team
A pupil shows off a pad she received from the UCU team

Samaritans, once in a while, provide hope. One example was the recent visit to the area by students of Uganda Christian University (UCU) under the “Pad a Girl” initiative. This initiative helps financially-stressed girls in their menstrual periods stay in school by providing for them and teaching them how to make reusable sanitary towels.

Led by Gerald Emmanuel Abura, a UCU student pursuing Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration, the initiative was borne by the experience that Abura’s female classmate faced many years ago.

“My friend got up from her seat, and little did she know that her skirt was stained,” Abura narrates. “I was in shock when other students started laughing at her, instead of helping her.”

Abura’s friend didn’t return to school again. 

On March 22, Abura and 26 other UCU students visited three schools in northeastern Uganda — Matany Primary School, St. Daniel Comboni Secondary School and Kalotom Primary School. For this outreach, UCU provided transport and contributed towards meals and accommodation for the team that traveled to northeastern Uganda.

A UCU student donating household items to members of the community
A UCU student donating household items to members of the community

They taught both teachers and students how to make reusable pads, and also distributed the materials for making pads. The outreach also involved lessons on the law, menstrual health and the importance of education

The students distributed 600 reusable pads and 768 packets of disposable pads, ensuring that no girl misses school due to lack of a sanitary towel.  The charity benefited more than 300 students, over 100 community members, including 41 widows, and more than 100 church members. 

Irene Nabwire Ojambo, UCU’s head of the Counseling Department, said the “Pad a Girl” initiative extends beyond supplying pads. The initiative teaches girls how to track their menstrual cycles, empowering them to take control of their health and education.

Miriam Teko, one of the teachers at Kalotom Primary School, said: “Some parents do not provide for their children. I’m so grateful to UCU students who have given our students pads.” 

Grace Agape Asiimah, a final-year student of Bachelor of Laws at UCU, used the opportunity to teach the students about their rights. “You have a right to education. Don’t work when you should be in school.”

The UCU students also reached out to the members of the community, distributing shoes, clothes, and other household items. 

Asiimah Onyang Lillian, a mother struggling to make ends meet after her husband abandoned her, expressed gratitude for the support received.

“Every day is a struggle for survival, but thanks to the UCU students, who have given me clothes, pads, soap and sugar,” she said. “I feel blessed amidst my hardships.”

Last year, the “Pad a Girl” initiative was in Buikwe, central Uganda, for the same purpose. This year’s campaign was funded by Period Equity, Kisoboka Africa – It’s possible, Compassion Uganda, UCU students and staff.

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