By Vanessa Kyalimpa
On January 7, 2020, Uganda Christian University (UCU) awarded semester scholarships to 10 students in appreciation of their outstanding academic performance. While handing out the Vice Chancellor’s Awards to the students, former Vice Chancellor John Senyonyi said the gesture was a motivation for excellence at the university.
True to the intention of the award, two students did not take their feet off the pedal. Mugagga Leslie Lubowa and Hajara Nanziri – who were among the recipients of the scholarships in 2020 – on July 29, 2022, emerged top at UCU’s first part of the 23rd graduation.
Lubowa, a graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Economics and Statistics with a First Class, walked home with three accolades. His Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.91 out of 5 earned him the accolade of Best Male Student, Best Science Student and Overall Best Student.
Another recipient of the 2020 award, Hajara Nanziri, emerged the Best Arts Student at the July graduation. Nanziri, who attained a First Class with a CGPA of 4.72, graduated with a Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
The best overall female student at the graduation, Cynthia Birungi Muhumuza, a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Economics and Statistics, garnered a CGPA of 4.76. Birungi’s life has been a true defiance of the phrase “a jack of all trades and a master of none.” While at UCU, she did not just belong to the elite class of the Honors College. She was a leader at the college, as its Prime Minister. Before joining UCU, Birungi was the head girl at Seroma Christian School, where she attended secondary education. She was also the school’s basketball team captain.
Mugagga, Nanziri and Birungi were among the 55 students who attained academic excellence at the July graduation, garnering First Class and, thus, walked home with plaques.
Boreen Natamba, who got a First Class in Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance, was full of praises to her parents and lecturers. “Without them, I wouldn’t have graduated today,” Natamba said at the event, where 2106 students graduated. Of these, 55% were female.
“The endless discussions have finally paid off,” Natamba said. “I’m optimistic that with the skills and values we’ve acquired, the future is bright,”
The graduation ceremony, in a year when UCU marks 25 years of existence, was the institution’s first total in-person ceremony since the outbreak of Covid-19 more than two years ago. The previous two graduation ceremonies — on December 18, 2020, and October 22, 2021 — were virtual, in line with the Uganda Government’s policy of observing the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures.
The graduating students were also coming from some of UCU’s constituent colleges – Bishop Barham and Mbale University College; and the Arua Campus.
Unpacking the sendoff package of nuggets of wisdom for the graduates, chief guest Bishop Dr. Sheldon Mwesigwa emphasized the virtues of truthfulness, trustworthiness and timeliness as some of what will determine how much the graduates achieve in the field of work.
He said deception has become the modern way of life in a world where the dividing line between the truth and lies gets blurred each passing day. Mwesigwa, a former Chairperson of the UCU Council, therefore, urged the graduates to be “ambassadors of truth, and not messengers of lies and deception.”
The Chancellor of UCU, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, hinged his message to the graduates on integrity.
“You have a duty to uphold the flag of UCU, while remaining men and women of integrity, guided by humility and discipline, because it is through these attributes that you will remain useful to your families and community,” Kaziimba, who is the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Uganda, said.
He reminded the graduates that the virtues of diligence, servanthood and stewardship should be their guiding compass in life.
Students and guests who attended the graduation ceremony walked home with printed souvenir copies of Ebenezer, a graduation publication produced in collaboration with Uganda Partners, UCU Department of Communications and Public Relations and the Standard under the School of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMC).
The graduation ceremony was preceded by two events – a public lecture held on July 27 and the commissioning ceremony of the graduands. Doug Fountain, a former UCU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and External Relations, now living in Maryland, USA, gave the public lecture on the topic, “The Strongest Asset for Building Resilient Local Health Systems.”
At the commissioning service held in Nkoyoyo Hall on July 28, the guest preacher, Canon Edward Gaamuwa, urged the students to always wait on God because “He has the right timing for every person.”
“God has a definite plan and purpose for your life. He will go with you and be with you in every step of your life,” Gaamuwa said.
At the graduation, two students – Owen Alleluya of Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Entrepreneurship and Alex Khauka, of Diploma in Information Technology – received their awards posthumously. Alleluya died after his final exams while Khauka and his father, Siraj Gidudu, died in a motor accident on their way to the graduation.