UCU’s top two graduates choose teaching careers

By Irene Best Nyapendi
The Uganda Christian University (UCU) top two graduates in October 2022 have a commonality in struggles and interest.

To make ends meet for her family, Candiru Zainab, studying at UCU’s Arua campus, taught at a nearby school, Najah Muslim Secondary School in the northern Uganda district of Arua. To have more chances of getting better-paying jobs, the mother of four children worked toward a Bachelor of Education degree, which she was awarded at the UCU main campus in Mukono on October 28. Candiru was among the 1,570 graduates that day.

Candiru Zainab and Robert Cadribo, the best students.
Candiru Zainab and Robert Cadribo, the best students.

With a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.75 out of 5.0, Candiru was the Best Female Student at the graduation. To her, this feat is nothing short of a miracle, seeing how far the Lord has brought her and with obstacles. In 2009, Candiru lost her husband and father of her first two children to appendicitis, a tragedy with recovery she felt would never come. However, two years later, she thought she found love again. Sadly, that relationship, which yielded her other two children, did not last; it ended in 2016.

During her undergraduate studies, Candiru says she lacked the basic necessities, including 2lst century learning tools. She could neither afford a smartphone nor a laptop.  She could neither easily type coursework nor benefit from online reading materials.

Obstacles are likewise part of the story of Robert Cadribo, UCU’s Overall Best Student, who also received a Bachelor of Education degree at the October 28 graduation. Cadribo, who graduated with a 4.86 GPA,  says he was financially incapacitated to the extent that he could not afford to photocopy the handouts that lecturers gave out. However, he had plan B. He resorted to borrowing handouts and writing down whatever he considered valuable, before returning them to the owners.

Graduands dressed in newly branded gowns.
Graduands dressed in newly branded gowns.

Just like Candiru, Cadribo has been earning a living through teaching. As a teacher of Biology and Agriculture at Koboko Town College located in the northern Uganda district of Koboko, Cadribo says he has been earning sh250,000 (about $66) per month.

“The biggest challenge I faced was my family and my studies struggled for the same resources,” he said.  “Oftentimes, I gave priority to my studies.”

Candiru and Cadribo were among the 36 students who graduated with First Class at the October 28 ceremony, which was also the apex activity for the silver jubilee anniversary of UCU. Before the graduation, other key activities were held at UCU as part of the celebrations. There was a thanksgiving service on October 23, an alumni homecoming on October 25 and a public lecture on the history of UCU, held on October 26. The public lecture was delivered by former vice-chancellors the Rev. Prof. Stephen Noll and his successor, the Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony that had 828 female graduates of the 1,570, Vice Chancellor Aaron Mushengyezi narrated the history and the success story of UCU in the last 25 years.

“We are forever indebted to the men and women who conceived the UCU vision and those who made it happen, we celebrate you,” he said.  “I look at UCU and the institution that preceded it from St. Paul’s imagery of a seed in 1 Corinthians: 3:6-8.”

This year, the university acquired land and a teaching facility at Besania Hill, acquired an official home for the UCU Kampala Campus, constructed a parking lot at Kivengere Building on the main campus and improved walkways around Kivengere and Maari blocks. Mushengyezi also named Prof. Monica Chibita, Dr. Angella Napakol, Dr. Miriam Mutabazi and Dr. Emilly Maractho as some of the UCU academics who either wrote books, published papers or won grants.

The Chancellor, Archbishop Dr. Stephen Kaziimba, urged the graduates to be passionate about what they choose to do.

“If you have a great idea, work at it, don’t give up. The world is currently ablaze with start-ups, which have been initiated by young people,” Kaziimba said, before adding: “Your success shall be measured by the vibrancy and dynamism of your individual ideas.”

The University Council chairperson, the Rev. Prof. Alfred Olwa, reminded the graduates that a graduation ceremony is the “starting point for further achievements,” urging them not to rest on their laurels.