By Irene Best Nyapendi
In a world where specialization often reigns supreme, Melanie Owomugisha’s journey at Uganda Christian University (UCU) demonstrates the power of embracing diverse skills. Her story is one of mentorship and commitment to both Information Technology (IT) and communications.
Owomugisha joined UCU in 2020 and received a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in July 2023. Her decision to delve into the world of IT was driven by her determination to break gender stereotypes.
“Actually, I wanted to do things men do; that’s the reason why I wanted to do IT,” she said.
In high school, she had realized that it was mostly the male students who were interested in computers; girls showed little or no interest. Owomugisha also envisioned a world that was going to be highly digitalized, so she saw a future in studying IT.
While she was deeply passionate about IT, her journey at UCU introduced her to the realm of media. As a recent graduate, she has applied for IT work in several companies. But just before she could walk out of the university, a different opportunity came her way.
In May 2023, the head of the Department of Computing and Technology called Owomugisha. She was hired and assigned to a mentor, Jimmy Siyasa, the Acting UCU Communications Officer, with the directive to train her in communications, public relations and management of the department’s social media.
“After I completed my IT studies, the department introduced me to the world of communication,” Owomugisha said. “I learned communication skills and took on responsibilities like managing social media, photography and videography.”
She said her new role as a journalist was rewarding and fulfilling. She made simple videos on “how to apply to UCU” that prospective students and online audiences found useful. Her tasks included making phone calls to hundreds of freshmen to clarify the UCU registration processes.
“Helping applicants (both undergraduate and postgraduate applicants) and making those calls gave me immense satisfaction,” she said.
Owomugisha excelled at being a content creator for the department. She captured videos of students narrating their experiences at the university and the memories they created, as well as curating profiles of graduates.
She was the lead on student engagement in department activities, including outreaches such as innovation hubs, career talks and ideation sessions. She mobilized the students in the Computing and Technology department.
She fell in love with the field of communication, and is now pivoting to studying a course in strategic communications. She views her move into media as part and parcel of expanding her skill set and effectively growing in the two careers. She believes the world today is looking for individuals who have more than one skill.
“The job market today requires more than one skill, and I believe having IT and media skills will make me stand out wherever I go,” Owomugisha said.
Owomugisha said she applied a lot of technical skills in her media work, particularly her ability to adapt to various software. She credited her IT background for making her versatile and enabled her to learn new software quickly, which was needed in her daily tasks.
As a student of media and an IT professional, she discovered that both fields require effective communication. She is now better in IT because of the ability to communicate IT concepts simply.
“In IT, people often lack communication skills,” she said. “They can develop great software, but struggle to present it. With my IT background and communication skills, I can bridge that gap and explain software effectively.”
Owomugisha fondly recalls one working trip to Ntare School in Mbarara western Uganda and how she covered UCU’s online audience. She was proud of the job she did during the outreach and found joy in communicating the information in real-time.
Emmanuel Isabirye, a lecturer and mentor, said he was impressed by Owomugisha’s transition from a meticulous observer to an effective communicator.
“Melanie is a fast learner who goes against the odds to add a new skill set to her already promising collection,” he said. “She’s hungry for growth as evidenced in her willingness to sojourn in the communications department.”
Isabirybe said applicants appreciated her work with feedback from some that UCU was a “university of first choice boosted by Melanie’s courteous and informed phone calls.”
Owomugisha is committed to evolving in her media career and expressed gratitude to UCU for the rare opportunity to work as a communications person at the Computing and Technology department.
“I am excited about the future as I plan to continue my journey in the media,” she said. “I am grateful to UCU for giving me a platform to learn and grow. I appreciate everyone in the Communications and IT Department for their guidance.”