UCU Alum From medicine to theology: ‘…follow Me’

By Pauline Luba
UCU Martin Oluge’s father, Ignatius Okello, raised many of his children in a hospital setting because that is where he worked as a police officer. It is during that time that Oluge became fond of the medical profession; he could not think of any other career. However, things changed. Oluge is now eyeing a career as a priest of the Anglican Church in Uganda.

As he grew up, he was attracted by the way the doctors carried themselves at the hospital and how they conducted their work. 

But there was a hurdle for Oluge to jump. Okello and his wife, Juliet, had 16 children, including Oluge, to look after. 

By studying Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics in A’level at St. Joseph’s Senior Secondary School Naggalama in central Uganda, Oluge was more than sure that he was getting closer to his dream career. However, there was a hiccup. He did not get the required grades to get government sponsorship at Uganda’s public universities. He thus opted for a Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine and Surgery at Kampala International University (KIU), a privately owned institution.

“I enjoyed my time at KIU,” Oluge said. “It was great and the experience humbled me. I believe this is what pushed me to excel after my internship.” 

Oluge said while in A’level, he had become too confident, and thinks it could have been one of the reasons he failed to meet the cut for a government sponsorship in medicine.

In 2019, Oluge did his mandatory one-year internship at Mengo Hospital, before securing employment at Ngora Freda Carr Hospital in eastern Uganda. For any newly qualified doctor to practice medicine in Uganda, they are required to undergo a year-long paid internship at a government health facility in the country. 

Why Oluge Transitioned from Medicine to Theology at UCU

Ngora Freda Carr Hospital, where Oluge was employed, is a rural private not-for-profit facility affiliated with the Anglican Church in Uganda. After three years of employment at the facility, Oluge says he got a “calling from God.” He says he heard this call in his head over and over until he consulted the reverends in his church. He was advised to fulfill the call and study theology. This was in 2021.

However, there was another hurdle. Coming from a staunch Catholic family, Oluge knew that he would not get the full support to pursue a vocation as a priest in the Anglican Church. And he was right. When he broke the news to his extended family, it was a double disappointment for them – one, he was leaving the medicine job, and, two, he was joining another faith different from what his family raised him in.

“It was not easy,” he said. “I had to tell my parents I was leaving the Catholic faith, as well as medicine. Yet, they had paid my tuition for the course.” 

Oluge says it took two months of battle and prayer before he could apply for a Masters in Divinity at Uganda Christian University. Eventually he did, and is now a student.

The father of three – 6, 3 and 2 years – and husband of Rael Cheptoek had to resign from his job in order to study full time at UCU, where he enrolled in May 2023. For his master’s course, Oluge got a sponsorship from the Lango diocese’s Anglican Aid. The sponsorship covers his tuition, accommodation and basic needs for his family. He also works at UCU’s University Hospital, the Allan Galpin Health Centre. 

Oluge now eyes becoming a pastor. To those pondering a career change in life, Oluge’s advice hinges on what Jesus says in John 10:27-28: “My sheep, hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” 


UCU awards law alumni who graduated as best lawyers

By Irene Best Nyapendi
Work, dedication and discipline paid off for the Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Law class of 2020/2021 as these graduates topped the list at the 50th Law Development Center (LDC) graduation. Among the top 20 students who scored a first-class degree at the LDC graduation in June, 10 did their Bachelor’s Degree at UCU. 

Emmanuel Okia, the overall best student receiving his award from the UCU Vice Chancellor.
Emmanuel Okia, the overall best student receiving his award from the UCU Vice Chancellor.

Before anyone can practice law in Uganda, they must have a Post-Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (one academic year) from LDC on top of a degree from a recognized university. UCU is among a dozen Ugandan schools offering a law degree.

In appreciation of their achievement, UCU held a thanksgiving ceremony to honor these distinguished alumni. The recognition on July 11 at Nkoyoyo Hall followed the recently concluded LDC graduations at LDC campuses in Kampala, Lira and Mbarara districts.

About the UCU Law thanksgiving

Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the UCU Vice Chancellor, commended the School of Law staff for their roles in graduates’ success and encouraged alumni to consider working at UCU. 

Martha Uwizeye is presented with an award by the UCU Vice Chancellor. Uwizeye was among the UCU students whose studies were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic that saw institutions halt physical classes and completed the semester online.
Martha Uwizeye is presented with an award by the UCU Vice Chancellor. Uwizeye was among the UCU students whose studies were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic that saw institutions halt physical classes and completed the semester online.

“This has been possible because we have a God we serve, a mighty God, and so we shall be a mighty university,” Mushengyezi said.

In appreciation of the performance, UCU management approved the purchase of a new van for the faculty and renovation of their offices. Star students were given individual awards.

Rev. Assoc. Prof. John Mulindwa Kitayimbwa, the UCU Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), who attended the graduation at Kampala campus, said he was “filled with extreme joy” that the top four students were from UCU.

We want to thank the Lord because it has not been by power nor might, but it has been by the Spirit of the living God,” Kitayimbwa said.

Dr. Peter Mutesasira, Dean of the UCU School of Law, said the recent accomplishment wasn’t an easy task but is a reflection of the rigor at UCU.  

“Your great performance at LDC has proved that beyond the gates of UCU, our students continue to excel, and this has proved that we indeed produce the best,” he said. “We thank God we are here. I usually tell my students I am the film star of the School of Law, but for today these are our film stars.”

He urged other students pursuing Law at UCU to be firm and know that they are in the right place. 

The alumni show off their awards in a photo with the Vice Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi (front-row third left) and other university officials. UCU had 10 of the best 20 students who scored a first-class degree at the Law Development Centre graduation in June
The alumni show off their awards in a photo with the Vice Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi (front-row third left) and other university officials. UCU had 10 of the best 20 students who scored a first-class degree at the Law Development Centre graduation in June.

“We hope you will be an inspiration to those who are coming after you,” Mutesasira said. “We believe that even those after you will hold our flag higher and this is not the end; this is the journey that is just starting for you.” 

During the event, the Vice Chancellor awarded the distinguished graduands.

The stars included Emmanuel Okia, the best performer at LDC this year with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.90; Shamira Kitimbo, the best female student at LDC with 4.80; Reagan Ahumuza, the best at Kampala campus with 4.75. The others included Victor Stephen Bwambale with 4.60; Job Ernest Ayesiga (4.55); Samuel Odiye (4.50); Martha Uwizeye (4.40); and Namagembe Josephine Jojo (4.40).

Jemimah Jehopio, who scored a CGPA of 4.70, scooped the three awards at LDC – the Director’s Award, Agaba Muhairwe Prize (given to best student in corporate and commercial practice on the postgraduate bar course) and the Inspector General of Government accolade (for outstanding student in trial advocacy). 

“These awards represent the fulfillment of my dreams,” Jehopio said. “These accolades acknowledge my dedication and are pivotal for my future career endeavors.”

“I am humbled by such a profound gesture,” said Samuel Odiye (4.50). “We thank God for UCU, a place where knowledge meets opportunity, where dreams are nurtured, and where lifelong friendships are forged.”.

The graduates were among the first group of UCU students that did a take home exam during the Covid-19 lockdown disruptions in 2020. They completed their semester online and had a virtual graduation.  All that notwithstanding, they excelled, joined LDC and topped in the country.

UCU School of Medicine First Graduating Class: Empowering future doctors

By Irene Best Nyapendi and Jimmy Siyasa
In July 2023, Uganda Christian University (UCU) graduates 45 pioneer students of its School of Medicine. The graduates are the first batch of exceptional doctors – with many more to come, marking a milestone since the establishment of the School of Medicine in 2018. 

How UCU’s School of Medicine collaborations benefits its students

To forge the best doctors, UCU’s School of Medicine has proactively forged partnerships with institutions such as Mulago National Referral Hospital, Mengo Hospital, Mukono Church of Uganda Hospital and Uganda Cancer Institute. These collaborations ensure that students receive comprehensive and high-quality training throughout their five-year program.

Under the guidance of Dr. Gerald Tumusiime, Dean of the School of Medicine, students are strategically placed in different healthcare facilities at various stages of their training. This approach aims to provide them with diverse clinical exposure and the opportunity to learn from specialists in different settings. 

“By moving to different health facilities, they get more skills from different specialists and exposure so that they may make informed choices with their career paths,” Dr. Tumusiime said.  

Beginning from their first and second years, students gain valuable clinical experience at Mengo and Mukono Church of Uganda hospitals. As they progress to their third and fourth years, they undertake extensive clinical practice at Mengo Hospital. In their fourth year, students have the privilege of training at the Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care Africa, Mulago Hospital and Uganda Cancer Institute.

Beyond the clinical aspects, the School of Medicine emphasizes the importance of holistic development. Students participate in mandatory community engagement programs, aligning with the philosophy of reaching out to the sick. This approach cultivates character and instills empathy in future doctors. Furthermore, the school’s collaboration with organizations such as Noah’s Ark Ministries, a Christian entity, offers students opportunities to integrate their faith into their medical practice. Noah’s Ark integrates the student doctors in their medical center and schedules outreaches to communities for clinical screenings and immunizations. 

Dr. Tumusiime believes that this holistic approach sets UCU students apart, making them not only highly skilled professionals, but also compassionate caregivers. Through their training, these students learn to prioritize patient well-being and exhibit genuine care for those they serve.

“Interactions with other Christian doctors at such Christian organizations enable our students to integrate faith in medical practice,” Dr. Tumusiime said.

The institution’s emphasis on quality training, diverse clinical exposure, and the integration of faith in medical practice ensures that UCU graduates are well-prepared to make a positive impact on the communities they serve. 

As the future of medical education and practice unfolds, prospective students can find solace in UCU’s dedication to empowering aspiring doctors with the knowledge, skills and character that makes them stand out in the crowd.

Testimonies of graduands

Ronnie Mwesigwa’s dream, which is contributing towards healing the ailing health sector, is near with his imminent graduation. Mwesigwa is concerned about the patient-to-doctor ratio gap in Uganda. Uganda’s doctor-to-patient ratio is one doctor per every 25,725 patients. In comparison, the USA has one doctor for every 340 persons. 

Mwesigwa lost his grandmother – a death he believes was caused by negligent doctors. Her final note urged her grandson to “study medicine and become a doctor.” 

“The doctor who was serving her postponed her treatment many times even when she needed immediate attention,” he said.

Graduand Davis Ampumuza has promised himself to bring strong work ethic and enthusiasm in the medical field to curb the rate at which pregnant mothers lose their lives and children due to negligence and unavailability of medical officers. 

“The short answer to making health care better in Uganda is a well-developed infrastructure,” he said. “The longer answer relates to the fact that women in particular stay in very hard to reach areas where the distance between their homes and health units is very long and the roads are very poor.”

Ampumuza added that the lack of nearby medical services, combined with procedures performed by less-qualified health care workers,  increases the risk of mortality for pregnant women and their babies.

Ampumuza, Mwesigwa and 43 other new UCU SoM graduates will help fill those gaps.

Following the July graduation, there will be 259 students in the School of Medicine.



UCU Mbale Campus gets new principal

By Pauline Luba

Dr. Erisa Kigenyi Mazaki, the new Principal of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mbale University College, was twice “acting” in the role over the past five years.

The life of UCU’s Dr. Erisa Kigenyi Mazaki

In August 2018, he joined the institution as a full-time staff member. Just four months later, the UCU Vice Chancellor at the time, Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi, shocked Kigenyi by appointing him the acting principal of the college. The position holder at the time had retired. 

“I was shocked because I thought there were more capable people than I was,”  Kigenyi, an ardent teacher, said.  “I was wondering why I had been tasked with the responsibility.”

Kigenyi was the acting principal until March 2019, when Mrs. Mary Gichuki Manana joined the college as the substantive head. A year later, last year, when the position fell vacant in November, Dr. Kigenyi was appointed in acting capacity. 

In June 2023, the month when Kigenyi was celebrating 50 years of age, he received a notification that he had been appointed as the college’s substantive principal. 

For now, his eyes will be focused on ventures to improve the state of the infrastructure of the college, located in Mbale city, eastern Uganda. With improved infrastructure, there is hope that the enrollment and welfare of students at the college will improve. 

One of the class blocks at UCU Mbale campus.

Last year, the college launched a fundraising drive to raise money for the expansion of the institution’s infrastructure. At the event, more than sh240million (over $64,000) was collected in cash and pledges. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who was represented at the function by Mbale Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Ahamada Washaki, pledged sh200million (about $53,000).

Should any challenges surface during Kigenyi’s tenure as principal, he feels assured of victory. He says his armor is Psalm 121:1-3 “I look up to the mountains, does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and Earth. He will not let you stumble; the One who watches over you will not slumber.” 

To deliver results in his new position, the father of three boys and one girl hopes to rely on his ever-present and supportive wife, Janet Kigenyi, in affairs of the home. Her management of family affairs enables him to have a peace of mind at work. 

Born in 1973 to Mr. Nsangi Amunoni and Annet Nasiyo, Kigenyi had 10 siblings – three boys and seven girls. He attended North Road Primary School in Mbale city for his primary education and then Bukedi College Kachonga from Senior One to Senior Five. He was unable to return to the school for Senior Six because his father faced financial hardships and could not afford to pay the tuition. Kigenyi was then enrolled at Mbale Progressive School, where he completed Senior Six, emerging as one of the best candidates in the national exams.

The top performance earned Kigenyi a government sponsorship for a Bachelor of Arts with Education at Uganda’s Makerere University. In 1988, Kigenyi graduated as a teacher. Soon after, he teamed up with two colleagues and they started their own school, Mbale Comprehensive High School, where he is still a director. He says teaching and molding students into useful citizens is a satisfying experience.

 “Students are the reason teachers like me exist,” he said.

In November 1998, he joined Mbale Secondary School, where he taught until 2012. Here, he was a classroom teacher before being promoted to the position of head of the history department. He was also appointed as the chair of the staff of the Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS) and patron of student leaders in a school of over 4,000 students. 

In 2005, Kigenyi joined UCU for post-graduate studies, graduating in 2007 with a Master of Science in Human Resource Management in Education. In 2010, he enrolled for a Post-graduate Diploma in Public Administration and Management at Uganda Management Institute, graduating with a first class in 2011. Two years later, Kigenyi went back to school, enrolling for a PhD in Management Science at Mbarara University of Science and Technology. He graduated in 2017. 

Before joining UCU as a full-time staff member in 2018, Kigenyi served the university on a part-time basis for seven years, up to July 2018. 

Out-of-class experiences help prepare UCU students for careers

By Irene Best Nyapendi
The 11 undergraduate programs offered at Uganda Christian University (UCU) have classroom and hands-on learning opportunities. Students are especially encouraged to apply for internships that may be paid or unpaid and year-round or during the one of three semesters each year that students do not have classroom lectures.  These experiences reinforce the meaning of studies and make graduates more employable.   

Merick Wandera, BBA student

Merick Wandera, a UCU Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student interning with the Uganda Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development, is among students reaping the advantages of applying his education in the context of the work world. He also recently was named the best intern among student workers at this government site.

“I am so glad that my internship was fruitful because after I emerged as the best intern student,” he said. “They advised me to consider going back there after graduation so that I can join their team.”

Wandera said he had a great internship experience and got new knowledge about governance and finance. He learned that the first role of the government is to provide services to the citizens and not to make profits.

“I used to wonder why the government continues to fund projects that didn’t produce any profit, but during my internship, I learnt that the government is after offering services and not making profits,” Wandera said.

As a result of the internship, he is  more conversant with the process of formulating sound economic policies and accountability for public resources aimed at achieving a sustained economic growth and development for the country.

Kefa Senoga, Journalism student

Kefa Senoga, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Communication, applauded one UCU lecturer for preparing him for his two internships – one with the New Vision newspaper and one with Uganda Partners. 

“I am so grateful to Mr. John Semakula, the lecturer, who taught us how to shape and write an article with a capturing introduction, good middle and end, which made me stand out amidst other intern students at New Vision,” Senoga said, adding that his writing skill was reinforced during an Economics and Business Journalism class.

At New Vision, Uganda’s biggest media house, Senoga learned more than honing his writing skill. His biggest lesson was in time management. He discovered that at school, students are given ample time to write an article, yet in the newsroom, completion deadlines were shorter.

“At campus, we were given three weeks to submit our work, but at New Vision, I was given the same article and asked to hand it in in two hours. I had to be at New Vision at 8:00 a.m. every morning, dressed professionally and ready to take on assignments,” Senoga said.

Both for Uganda Partners and New Vision, Senoga learned to apply the rules of accuracy, balance, truth and objectivity. He discovered that not all stories written are published, but was fortunate and inspired that all of his did appear in the New Vision print newspaper during his internship.

Sarah Thon Nyanachiek, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration who interned at Smile Again Africa Development Organization in Juba, South Sudan
Sarah Thon Nyanachiek, a third-year UCU student pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration who interned at Smile Again Africa Development Organization in Juba, South Sudan

To Sarah Thon Nyanachiek, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Administration, a paid internship at Smile Again Africa Development Organization in Juba, South Sudan, gave her an added opportunity to build her career skills. She said she frequently applied the theoretical knowledge she learned from class, gained a clearer view of what it meant to be in the professional world and realized the importance of teamwork. 

“I improved my communication skills by engaging with people from different walks of life since my profession is all about working with different communities,” Nyanachiek said. “During my internship,  students and staff members from the agency worked together in the implementation of the project, and this increased our productivity,” she said. Where there was no cooperation, she suffered with heavy workloads as a result of others not delivering the tasks in time as required by the supervisor. 

Doreen Nyakato, a finalist pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, who had an internship at Ahumuza Child Development Center
Doreen Nyakato, a finalist pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, who had an internship at Ahumuza Child Development Center

Doreen Nyakato, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, gained more skills on strategic planning and managing an organization’s finances during her internship with Ahumuza Child Development Center. Among her applied skills were putting vouchers in the system and paying fees using checks for this organization under the Bunyoro Kitara Diocese that looks after the vulnerable members of the community such as orphans and widows.

“Every day was a learning experience for me,” she said. “However, my major take away was the lessons I got from my office supervisor who taught me to better align an organization’s financial status to their goals and objectives.”


Raising a child while seeking for knowledge

With support from the SG-NAPI ‘Scientist after Child’ scheme, Ugandan agronomist Rosemary Bulyaba may now both look after her children and conduct research that helps her community.

Ugandan agronomist Rosemary Bulyaba is exploring how to find varieties of cowpea that are more resilient to adverse climatic conditions, can thrive in various soils types and environments, and whose leaves can be utilized as vegetables and are rich in vital nutrients such as iron and folate. Bulyaba is the dean of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Faculty of Agriculture Sciences. However must also balance her research work with her role as a mother of two children, a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl.

However, her second maternity leave has been much easier than the first one, because, while working at the Uganda Christian University (UCU), in Mukono, Uganda, she received a special grant that TWAS established in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Called the Seed Grant for New African Principal Investigators (SG-NAPI), it offers an unprecedented mother-friendly component called ‘Scientist after Child’ scheme. This scheme allows pregnant scientists and new mothers to receive extra funding to hire a lab assistant, thus obtaining reliable maternity leave support.

“Receiving the SG-NAPI was a huge help for my scientific career. I could continue my research with the aid of an assistant while staying at home and breastfeeding,” she explained. “This grant has strengthened my reputation and increased my value at UCU. My career was uplifted: I was head of the department and now I am the Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences.”

The SG-NAPI grant meets the needs of early-career scientists from developing countries, and, in particular, from the least developed countries (LDCs). With funding entirely from BMBF, it allows young scientists to purchase the research facilities they need to enhance their productivity. Its ‘Scientists after Child’ scheme seeks to enhance the productivity of female scientists returning to academia after maternity leave. Another component of the programme, the ‘Master of Science training grant’, allows scientists to train master’s students within their research group. Bulyaba benefitted from both these components.

A mother-friendly scheme

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an annual herbaceous legume originally used to feed animals, especially by smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – hence the name cowpea.  However, it is becoming increasingly relevant in human nutrition, as it is rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and fiber, and low in fat content.

Bulyaba’s interest in nutrition-sensitive agriculture and agronomic management practices is not recent. Her early step in science led her to study grain legumes such as cowpeas, common beans, lablab beans, and soybeans. In 2019, she earned a PhD in crop production, physiology, and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University, US, and then moved back to Uganda. Shortly thereafter, she discovered that she was expecting, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was about to begin.

“I was afraid that I would have to halt my scientific career for a while, because my husband and I already had a young daughter, who was only 1 year old at the time, to take care of. However, field and lab work are often quite demanding,” she recalled.

Rosemary Bulyaba
Rosemary Bulyaba inspecting the offshoots in a cowpea field. (Photo provided)

An agronomist’s life is physically intense. The fieldworkbegins with land preparation and the planting of the seeds. Then weekly monitoring activity requires extra work to ensure that the plants have germinated and are growing well—otherwise a new round of sowing is needed. Sometimes insects ruin the crop, and scientists need to use pesticides to keep those at bay.

When Bulyaba was still a new staff member and a mother for the second time, she learned about a programme that would preserve her work. The former Dean of Bulyaba’s faculty mentioned the SG-NAPI grant and the mother-friendly scheme. Bulyaba applied, and her maternity leave improved. With a two-year long grant covering 2022 and 2023, she could hire an assistant who supports in supervising the research activities while she is at home with her kids. This also ensures that her master’s students have the support they need and prevents a gap in her scientific work.

“I have three sites to check on periodically, in Eastern Uganda, Central Uganda, and in greenhouses,” Bulyaba explained. “With my students, we are now testing over 100 different genotypes, across these sites, to see which ones best adapt to these environments, under those specific conditions. It is interesting to see how plants behave under conditions that are apparently similar, but in practice different.” Some of the cowpea genotypes are from Ghana, others from Makerere University, and from UCU where Bulyaba is employed.

A mother’s impact on child wellbeing

The grant’s impact was enormous, not only on her career. In a more relaxed mood at home, Bulyaba offered her newborn, Shaun, quality time, and the difference from the first pregnancy was evident.

“My presence at home brought several benefits to my son, who is more self-confident, assertive, and prompt from a cognitive point of view,” she observed. He was breastfed for 18 months, while his sister stopped after four. In addition, Shaun, not yet 3, can count one-to-ten, recite the alphabet, identify shapes and colours, and has started speaking both his native language, Luganda, and English without having attended kindergarten yet.

The SG-NAPI grant put Bulyaba in the position to make a difference also for young scientists in her community. She hired two master’s students, Naome Aryatwijuka and Norah Akaba, whose role in this cowpea research is crucial.

Rosemary Bulyaba's MSc students
Naome Aryatwijuka (left) and Nora Akaba, Rosemary Bulyaba’s master’s students, checking the sprouts in a greenhouse in Mukono, Uganda. (Photo provided)

Aryatwijuka, who conducts agronomic field work and experimentation, is a master’s student in agriculture research. She handles tasks such as planting the seeds, collecting the leaves, and correlating the quality and yield of the harvested crops with specific genotypes and field locations. Then Akaba steps in.

Thanks to the SG-NAPI grant, Akaba can pursue her master’s degree in human nutrition. She uses Aryatwijuka’s information to select the most potentially nutritious leaves, which are naturally rich in micronutrients that are especially important for reproductive-age women. She is also involved in the preparation and development of a nutritionally dense cowpea soup for the local communities. Additionally, she is working on gathering feedback from community members regarding the quality and acceptability of the meal.

“I feel quite privileged because the SG-NAPI grant gave me the chance to hire two young women and have an impact on their education and career,” Bulyaba said. “Women often face more challenges and have fewer privileges compared to men, and having a child can often so easily lead to the end of their scientific career. I do hope that both Akaba and Aryatwijuka will also pursue a PhD after this master’s experience.”

“Receiving this grant was not only for me but for my students as well,” she concluded.

This article, written by By Cristina Serra was published on The World Academy of Sciences.

UCU upperclassmen reinforce value of ‘soft skills’ to younger peers

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By Irene Best Nyapendi
As she waits to graduate, Doreen Mbabazi Naiga is already giving back to Uganda Christian University (UCU) through equipping the continuing students with what most call “soft” but nevertheless vital skills. Naiga, who will receive her Bachelor of Laws degree when she graduates in July,  partnered with Solomon Esadu, also a student pursuing a Bachelor of Laws in his fourth year, to reinforce employability skills of communication, teamwork and more.


“We saw that after finishing school, students face a challenge of getting jobs because they lack some of these soft skills like perfecting their Curriculum Vitae,” Naiga said.

Some of the students who attended the May training at UCU’s Nkoyoyo hall.
Some of the students who attended the May training at UCU’s Nkoyoyo hall.

Naiga said they wanted to be proactive at offering students knowledge on some of the softer  skills they need to get a job. Along with their organization, United Nations Association of Uganda (UNAU), Naiga and Esadu organized a one-day workshop on May 27, 2023, at UCU on the theme of “Career exploration and professional developing: Mapping your future.” UNAU works in conjunction with UN agencies to achieve aims and objectives of the UN.

Naiga and Esadu were among 20 delegates selected by the Africa UNAU. Naiga was inspired to join the fellowship because she wanted to be part of the solution. 

“I wanted to be in a position where I am able to help and influence communities,” she said.

Esadu joined UNAU because he is passionate about leadership and social development.

As delegates, they were offered a skilling program, mentorship, training and workshops where they learned about what they need to do in their community. At the workshop, the two passed some of this knowledge along.

“We learned that more people in society would love to obtain the same skill, so we brought it to our brothers and sisters at UCU to help them understand the skills they ought to have as they go to seek for jobs,” Esadu said.

Esadu noted that with so many graduates hunting for job opportunities in the competitive work world, soft skills make one stand out.

Esadu cautioned students about spending many hours on the internet just watching fun videos, but rather invest that time networking on the various social media platforms and learning about potential employers.

Doreen Mbabazi Naiga training students on how to stand out in a competitive job market.
Doreen Mbabazi Naiga training students on how to stand out in a competitive job market.

He also encouraged students to volunteer while they are still in school so that by the time they graduate, they would have acquired more experience needed and desired by employers.

He commended the university for the soft skills it offers through the undergraduate course units of Writing and Study Skills. However, he observed that students don’t realize how important the course unit is early in their studies, necessitating that students re-study it later. 

“The students were able to learn and re-learn some of the pertinent issues they have not been paying much attention to such as resume writing,” Esadu said of the workshop. “When the speakers emphasized them, they got to understand them more.”

Skills offered

Eborty Ntami, a governance and peace fellow with the United Nations Development Program, taught students how to write an attractive Curriculum Vitae (a resume), how to answer interview questions, how to prepare for an interview, among other skills.

“I urge you to aim at having an attractive CV, to read about the job details and understand them before you apply and carry out research about the organization you are applying to,” Ntami said.

Ntami emphasized that having knowledge about a company before going for the interview not only increases the student’s chance of being hired, but also helps that student decide whether the company will be a good fit.

According to Ntami, knowledge, networking, empowerment, inclusiveness and persistence are key in determining what people become. She encouraged the students to be ready for opportunities when they come and to leverage on Information Technology to overcome in the dynamic world.

“Interviews are always tricky,”  said Alex Kaitale, a student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, after the workshop. “I am now prepared for the marketplace. I am sure I will submit the appropriate documents and respond to interview questions in the right way.”

Elijah Biimbwa, a second-year student of a Bachelor of Tourism in Hospitality Management, said he learned about the importance of networking.

“I learned that we need to network to increase our access to job opportunities, increase our visibility and advance our career. It is important for us to engage with others,” he said, adding that he also learned to make the best use of his social media platforms to network.


Triumphant UCU Alum Achieves Engineering PhD at Renowned Japanese University

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By Pauline Luba
“A name is so important. A surname connects you to your past, to your family.” This quote is attributed to Canadian author Kelley Armstrong. 

On life at UCU

The life of Joyce Nakayenga, a new recipient of a PhD in engineering, is aligned with the writer’s assertion. Named after her paternal grandmother, Nakayenga grew up knowing that she had to uphold that matriarch’s legacy of hard work and overcoming challenges. Nakayenga’s grandmother struggled to educate her children despite having so little. 

When Nakayenga was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering – Civil and Environmental Engineering from Hiroshima University in Japan on March 23, 2023, and as other members of her family as well as friends looked on, her grandmother’s spirit was ever present. With the degree, the 31-year-old also won three prestigious university awards.  Her research earned her the Best Presentation Researcher, Academic Encouragement Award and the 2022 Hiroshima Excellent Student Award.

For many who know Nakayenga’s academic ability, the latest attainment likely isn’t surprising. In 2015, she was not only a recipient of a First-Class degree in Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Uganda Christian University (UCU), but also had the best marks in her class. For that feat, she earned an academic excellence award at UCU. Consequently, UCU’s Department of Engineering and Environment hired Nakayenga as a tutorial assistant for one year.

“I have always wanted to be an engineer,” Nakayenga told Uganda Partners. “I wanted a profession that showed where I could visibly see the fruits of my work thereafter.”

UCU’s location within her home district – Mukono – and its deep roots in Christianity were a good fit for Nakayenga’s higher education choice.

Nakayenga notes that the UCU community, including its lecturers, were instrumental in ensuring concentration in books, overall performance and continued learning. For instance, a former lecturer at UCU brought her attention to the existence of the Mext scholarship to study at Hiroshima. Nakayenga enrolled for a master’s at the university in 2017 and the scholarship was extended to doctorate studies because she had passed the first post-graduate hurdle with flying colors. 

Nakayenga describes herself as someone “keen on promoting sustainable societal development, especially for developing countries, through innovative engineering solutions.” Her PhD research, under the topic “The re-use of stone quarry waste (i.e granite and limestone powder) to improve the properties of weak clay soils,” gives her the competence to be able to develop “sturdy infrastructure that will stand the test of time and natural disasters.” The research focused on how to make naturally weak clay soil strong, by using stone powder. 

Nakayenga is the fifth born of six children of Dr. Wilson Mubiru and Specioza Nabatanzi Mubiru. Nakayenga’s family had to use resources sparingly, having at one time been an extended family of up to 18 members living under one roof.  Her parents, now retired, were public servants. Wilson was the officer in charge of health in central Uganda’s Mubende district while Specioza served as an education officer in the same district.

Nakayenga attended Mubende Parents School for her primary education and Nabisunsa Girls School for her secondary education before joining UCU. Nakayenga balanced academics and student leadership roles at every school she attended. At Mubende Parents School, she was the assistant head prefect. At UCU she represented her faculty in the UCU students’ parliament. At Hiroshima University, from 2017 to 2018, Nakayenga was the university’s Study Abroad Ambassador, where she sensitized students on the benefits of studying in the Hiroshima Prefecture (municipality). 

For now, she will remain in Hiroshima, where the university has employed her as a postdoctoral researcher in the geotechnical laboratory of Hiroshima University.

“Unikonversationz”: UCU rolls out first-ever audio-visual university podcast in Uganda

By Irene Best Nyapendi

Uganda Christian University (UCU) has launched the first-ever audio-visual university podcast in Uganda dubbed “Unikonversationz”.

About the UCU-based UniKoversationz podcast

This is an inaugural university podcast that seeks to stimulate intellectual conversations and social commentary that appeal to and are relevant to university students or semi-educated people. Our goal is to provoke thought on topical issues ranging from academia, Christianity, worldviews, social life on campus, growth, personal improvement, etc. Our guest/guests take on intriguing subjects and discuss them with utmost precision.
While the podcast is curated by a team based at UCU, its appeal stretches beyond the university to broader audiences in Uganda and beyond. The audio-visual podcast is available on our YouTube channel.

Below is a glimpse of our first-ever audio-visual university podcast.

Over 60 UCU theology students thrilled on study tour

By Irene Best Nyapendi

Over 60 Uganda Christian University (UCU) Students of theology has toured various locations for purposes of appreciation of church history and general spiritual enlightenment. First, they went to St Paul’s Cathedral, then the Provincial Office C.O.U, after that, the Archbishop’s Palace in Namirembe; and finally, the Namugongo Martyrs sites-Anglican Church of Uganda. They were thrilled at the wealth of history that the church has preserved for several decades.

About the UCU study tour

The study tour was organized by the church relation office of UCU and school of theology.

By sightseeing historic sites, attending service at St. Paul cathedral, visiting the archbishop’s palace, partaking in other learning activities, the students experienced the church history of Uganda.

Rev Canon Amos Turyahabwe, the Head of Pastoral and Practical Studies, stated that they organized this study tour to offer its students a better and practical vision of the church history.

 “We saw that it’s not enough for us to only give the students theory so we organized a study tour to give our students exposure of the church history, to know where the headquarters are, where the first diocese was, to see and hear what the martyrs went through,” Turyahabwe said.

He adds that it was vital for the students to physically see some of the things that they learn in class to enhance their understanding.

While at St. Paul Cathedral Namirembe, which is the oldest and biggest chapel in Uganda, the students saw where the bishops sit, the grave of Bishop James Hannington.

Hannington was meant to be the first Bishop of C.O.U unfortunately he was murdered on his way to Uganda hence Bishop Alfred Tucker became the first bishop of C.O.U.

The students were also exposed to tour around the head offices of the Anglican Church, where they learnt that the term of service for the bishops is 10 years.

At the province they met UCU Alumni Andrew Agawa who is currently the Director of Households and community transformation.

Agawa appreciated the university team for organizing such a study tour because many individuals would love to have it but they cannot access it.

“As theologians it is good for you to have this because many people have never had this opportunity, because when they come in here as individuals chances are low that they can be given access to these places,” Agawa said.

Agawa went ahead to introduce some of the province leaders to the students as they got to learn more about church management and leadership.

The students also had time to visit the Most Rev. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu’s palace in Namirembe where they were happily welcomed by his wife, Margaret Naggayi Bulya. Together with the students they sung the famous song “Tumutendereze Yesu”.

She appreciated the students for answering Gods call upon their life and cautioned them not to carry themselves into ministry but to do it in response to God’s call.

“Thank you for answering God’s call upon your life because when God calls you, he will sustain you because while here you are standing in the feet of God,” she said.

She urged the students to let Jesus have the lead in their life and prayed a blessing upon their life.

“May you leave UCU and go and serve and not focus on wealth or positions because when you do well, God takes you to greater heights because God loves humble steadfast people,” Naggayi prayed for the students.

The students reaped from the study tour, one way or another, from the journey which enhanced their intellectual and academic knowledge on the church history.

According to some of the students, the study tour encouraged them to know that the things they are reading about isn’t just theoretical but they are real things.

The study tour also encourages the students to believe more as they are prepared for ministry.

Theology Students share their study tour experience

Theology students heading to the Archbishop’s palace.

Ronald Makoba pursuing a masters of Divinity, narrates that it has been a great experience for him looking at the history of C.O.U through the portraits at the site.

“In class we take notes, talk about the church history in Uganda but I had never seen these places, so visiting these historical places like Namirembe gave me exposure and it was an eye opener ,” Makoba said

Makoba was ignited by the mark that has been left by the martyrs which taught him that despite persecution the gospel of Christ must be proclaimed.

 “I’ve been touched looking at those martyrs, it paints a picture to us to be practical and I also saw the importance for us to lay foundations for others,” Makoba said.

Margret Nakalena pursuing a masters in Divinity says it was an experience of enlightenment for her to understand the administrative structure of the church.

“It’s been a wonderful experience physically seeing what we have been taught in class so now when we go back to class the discussions won’t only be from text but our mind will flash back to what we saw and heard today,” Nakalena said.

She explains that she is now able to know where each church is set and also learnt that it’s at the province that the important decisions in the dioceses are made.

“I also learnt that St. Paul Cathedral, Namirembe is of great significance to both Buganda and the government,” she added.

During this study tour, Stella Betty Abarob, pursuing a masters in Theology, had the opportunity to learn about the founders of the church and the historical background of the church.

This gave Abarob an opportunity to appreciate the fact that C.O.U has a great foundation that helps to strengthen our faith.“ It was my first time touring these historical places and the experience has been transformational. I have really enjoyed this tour each of the places we went to, I had something to learn,” Abarob said.

Rev. Richard Mulindwa (extreme right) leading students to the archbishop’s palace.

Rev. Richard Mulindwa, Ag. Manager of the UCU Church Relations office, says that the rationale for this study tour was for the students to know the history of the C.O.U, and to know the women and men who highly sacrificed for the faith they are enjoying.

“We think this has been a source of great exposure for our theology students as they venture into other key places in C.O.U so when it comes to the time of their training they will be grounded and will have the history of where we have come from,” Mulindwa said.

He adds that the study tour is part of the students training and formation, because other than the formation in classes this is the formation in the sense of practicum.

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