Jean Damascene Tuyizere from Rwandan a recent Gulu University graduate (2020) with a Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition and one of the MasterCard foundation Scholarship recipient through RUFORUM. Jean Shares his journey as a student at Gulu University and gives recommendations for improvement.
My stay at Gulu University has been a transformative phase of my life. In fact an unusual progress which I referred to as a ‘shift’ in this story. The fact that I was coming from a country which had undergone a transition in official language (from French to English), my English was not stable yet, in fact it was basic. Upon reaching, the University arranged a three months English language training for students coming from French speaking countries. This enabled me and my colleagues to learn English faster and communicate in effectively. This training was reinforced by other programs such as graduate seminar, workshops whose mode of delivery comprised writing a lot of term papers, reviewing articles, attending conferences, community attachment, graduate teaching assistance among others that transformed me into a smart writer.
Secondly the training approach at Gulu University allows students acquire experience while still at the University. This mode of training exposes learners to the real life experiences. The moto of Gulu university ‘‘for community transformation’’ is practiced through its own philosophy ‘‘Student centered outreach model’’ which create a unique interface between the University, students, and the community at large. This provide room for sharing experiences between partners and discuss possible homegrown solutions to address emerging challenges facing the community. Participating in this program made me understand deeper the theoretical knowledge learnt in the class and took me far beyond the class limits.
This program’s curriculum is not merely academic, it expands its contents to the whole personal development from in person communication, mass communication to boasting one’s personality as whole. I will never forget the emphasis of Dr. Egeru Anthony (TAGDev project manager) who always reminded us (scholars) to manage our expenses, investing our little income into small businesses, being more conscious about our health and taking care of the needy. To me this was one of the greatest lessons I have learnt and indeed has greatly impacted my actions and behaviour as whole.
During my stay at the University, I was able to accumulate six other certificates of different soft skills awarded by regional and International organizations from attending conferences, training and workshops. I also received recognition from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as one of the East African young farmers who invited me to attend its East African Regional Workshop on Youth-lead Sustainable Agriculture for Urban Food Systems.
Today, I am using the skills I have acquired from Gulu University and all the side programs I attended to help colleagues across the globe. Currently, I am heavily assisting as a research supervisor, three master students from the The BINGEN University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Bursa Uludağ University (Turkey) and Gulu University, Uganda.
Changing Africa trans-generational poverty into trans-generational wealth is what RUFORUM is missioned to do, in contributing to that, I have opened and I am managing a Facebook page ‘Opportunity Pool for African Youth (OPAY)’’ which seek to helping youth especially those living in remote areas of Africa tape into regional and global opportunities such as scholarships, fellowships and paid internships. At OPAY we also provide technical guidance on how to write a strong application.
Above all, I am a social entrepreneur running a project called ‘NGIRANKUGIRE’ which consists of giving small ruminants (sheep) to resources constrained households in Gataraga sector. The animals are given to households on a contract basis which gives both parties chance to alternate on sharing the offspring.
Last but not least, RUFORUM gives a four months field attachment to MSc students upon completion of their courses to manage a short-term project related to their research work. I am equally glad that I am one of the beneficiaries of this program and have receive funds from RUFORUM to Implement a project on Enhancing Utilization of Wild Fruits and Vegetables for Improved Iron Intake in Northern Uganda. This program offers a huge managerial experience and gives connections to students since they are expected to work with partner organizations during the implementation of the project activities and this expose the students to the job market place.
I am very glad to be an alumnus of Gulu University and I am so much grateful to the Mastercard Foundation for sponsoring my studies at Gulu University, Uganda. I normally tell my friends that I learnt to read and write from Gulu University. But this is not a joke, it is the truth. I am forever indebted to RUFORUM for believing in me and many other needy students and giving us an education.
Read more about Gulu University here
About Jean Damascene Tuyizere
He is a beneficiary of the MCF@RUFORUM Scholarship and was among the first cohort pursuing Masters’ degree in Food Security and Community Nutrition at the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu University