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Shafik Senkubuge Overcomes Financial Difficulties to Become First-Class Graduate

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Sha­fik Senkubuge, 24, is set to graduate from the Makerere University with a Degree of Bachelor of Environmental Health Science on January 29. Before becoming one of #Mak74thGrad’s stars from the College of Health Sciences (MakCHS), he faced financial constraints and personal challenges, but found the wisdom and resilience for his academic prowess to shine brightly.

He graduates with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.46 out of 5.00 (First Class Honors) qualifying him to be on the Vice Chancellor’s List. As a practice in Makerere University School of Public Health, he receives an award for the meritorious completion from the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.

Senkubuge entered MakSPH, after he missed his dream course, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery due to low points. He had obtained 15 points in Biology (03), Chemistry (04), Mathematics (o6) plus a point in ICT and General Paper (GP) at Mengo Senior School, despite having set himself a target to make 19 points.

Shafik Senkubuge in a group photo with colleagues during the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference. Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Shafik Senkubuge in a group photo with colleagues during the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference.

Background

Back in time, April 24, 2000 was the time when Kasozi Mohammed, a boda boda rider in Kampala and Pamela Nambusi gave birth to a young man, they later named Shafik Senkubuge. This was in the neighborhoods of Kawanda Namalere in Nangabo, Kyadondo, Central Uganda district of Wakiso. His family later shifted to Kagoma Village, in Maganjo Parish, Nabweru Subcounty and later went to Nansana Municipality, about 9.6km from the centre of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

It is here that he calls home. He is the first born in a family of three, with two younger sisters. Recently, [his father] informed him about having two additional sisters. Despite communication between his parents, they do not reside together, and his father has a second wife.

At the moment, his father drives a motorcycle taxi (Boda Boda) out of Nabweru, a Kampala suburb which is close to Kawempe. The mother, who is self-employed, is starting a decorating company in Nansana. She’s presently setting up a small business that specializes in decorations for parties, graduations, and introductions.

A 2022 Twaweza report showed that Up to 55% of Ugandans who opened businesses in the past five years had to close them due to coronavirus disruptions, declining demand, and heavy taxation

Despite relying on her hair designer job for nearly her adult life, Pamela, Shafik’s mother could survive the pandemic. In 2020, she was forced to close down her saloon after she failed to raise the rent.

“During the lockdown, we had a lot of demands as a family and she couldn’t accommodate the saloon rent. She had a very huge debt that accumulated, the landlord decided to request her to leave the house for another person. She left the house, took all her equipment home and after COVID-19 she failed to resume the same business due to financial constraints,” Shafik narrates.

Shafik Senkubuge (Centre with a ball) during one of the football gala activities of MakCHS. Main Sports Grounds, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Shafik Senkubuge (Centre with a ball) during one of the football gala activities of MakCHS.

This happened a very critical time he was joining University. Fortunately for him, his mother had ventured into brick-laying during lockdown, and this is where he concentrated his energies to look for his tuition, if he was to ever join University.

Shafik’s academic journey began in 2004 at Kawempe Junior. A dedicated  teacher at Melody Junior School that he joined later in 2009 ignited his interest in Science and Mathematics. This spark set the stage for his remarkable academic journey.

After completing primary two and crossing to primary three in 2008, his father had constructed a home in Nansana, where the family had to relocate to. In 2009, Shafik joined a new school – Melody Junior School in Nansana, a new environment, getting new friends.

At P.7, he became one of the only 4 first grades the school had, scoring 12 points.

“As the firstborn, my mother rejoiced, but concerns arose about my future after primary school due to financial constraints. Despite manageable primary school fees, I graduated with a debt. Upon retrieving my certificate, we settled the debt when I was already in senior one. My mother, balancing happiness and worries, pondered on how to secure my entry into secondary school, especially with my sister in primary five and our youngest sibling born in 2011, just around a year old,” recalls Shafik.

In 2014, still puzzled at the next step, his uncle, Patrick Ssenabulya, secured him a place through his NGO at St. Kizito Katikamu Kisule in Wobulenzi, Luweero district.

Starting secondary school in Luweero with a score of 12 aggregates among classmates with 4 and 6 aggregates, Shafik aimed to excel. Forming a close bond with his friend Kayondo Joseph, the duo navigated senior one to senior four together.

Despite facing math challenges, he encouraged me to confront them, and we succeeded. In the first term, he ranked 17th out of 178 students, bringing immense joy to my mother. The following term, he secured the third position, maintaining the second position consistently until completing senior four, including in UNEB exams

“When I went back home, my mom was very happy. I remember she slaughtered a chicken for me,” recalls Shafik.

St. Kizito Katikamu Kisule, a Catholic-founded school, groomed him and exposed his potential. “We used to go to church every day, they groomed us to be humble students and be disciplined. This helped us a lot and groomed us to be competitive even in academics,” he recalls

Despite obtaining 16 aggregates at Uganda Certificate of Education from this humble school, Shafik’s quest for a better education led him to Mengo Senior School, where he faced new challenges, including a shift from boarding to day school, walking long distances. Despite the obstacles, he maintained a strong work ethic, learning valuable lessons in time management and determination.

Her mother provided a Shs3000-transport allowance daily, covering both transport and break. He would skip the break tea to save part of the money for his transport back home in the evening. As such, he only used to have lunch to last until he left school at 5:00PM. This was the routine for the two years spent at Mengo SS, and his academic performance suffered significantly during that period.

“The first points I got were seven points, and this did not change up to our Mock examinations where I got to 10 points. Being at Mengo SS, made me learn even if you are brilliant, you need to have some extra tactics and thus we used to work so hard and we did serious calculations.

I remember sometimes we used to go to some other school, Kasubi Senior School, and read up until 10:00pm, then head back home. But by that, you are cutting a traffic jam that is usually there from around 8:00pm,” he recollects.

As he completed his Form 6, fate led him to a teaching position at his former primary school. The sudden closure of schools due to the pandemic forced him to adapt, and he embraced brickmaking as a means to sustain himself. The challenges were many, but Shafik’s resourcefulness and tenacity shone through.

Shafik Senkubuge (2nd Right) in a group photo with some of the BEHS Class of 2024 graduands. 74th Graduation Ceremony, Day 1, School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS), 29th January 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Shafik Senkubuge (2nd Right) in a group photo with some of the BEHS Class of 2024 graduands.

A few weeks into the semester, a second lockdown was announced by the president. This was according to him a blessing in disguise. He was uncertain how to clear tuition and registration.

A man named Longman Musige, a friend of my mother, promised to provide one million each semester. Although he already gave me one million, he still needed 1.8 million for semester registration.

“Upon reflection, we had crafted our bricks, but when the lockdown hit, we struggled to find funds to heat them and cover the remaining tuition. Despite burning the bricks, selling them proved challenging, leaving my mom anxious about my exam fees. Eventually, with support from Musawo Kaliro, contributions from friends, and brick sales, I managed to register for the online exams for the first semester,” he says.

Adding that; “Post-exams, my GPA stood at 4.9, providing a promising start towards achieving a first-class degree. Progressing through semester one and two, I maintained my diligence and benefited from my mom’s prayers. However, challenges arose during the exams in the second semester of year two.”

His classmates ran a campaign to raise him tuition but they could only raise Shs.1.4M from well-wishers out of the Shs.4.7million needed to clear the previous semester and the new semester.

His only hope was the Dean of MakSPH to whom he wrote a letter seeking financial assistance. “I detailed my financial situation, attached my results slip, and presented the funds I had collected. I was delighted to learn that she granted me a scholarship of 3.5 million. This not only cleared my backlog but also covered the third-year functional fees. With this support, I moved to University Hall for my third year, allowing me ample time for studies and fulfilling my leadership roles as MUEHSA president and college speaker.”

Shafik Senkubuge swears in as the MakCHS College speaker in witness of Professor Damalie Nakanjako, the Principal. College of Health Sciences (CHS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa,
Shafik Senkubuge swears in as the MakCHS College speaker in witness of Professor Damalie Nakanjako, the Principal. 

The ACMIS system at Makerere University faced a malfunction during the second semester of the first year in 2021, around the time the university was transitioning from AIMS to ACMIS. To Shafik, this was a golden chance to take exams without meeting the payment requirements.

Madvani Foundation Comes in handy

The twists and turns continued as he confronted financial obstacles, including unpaid tuition and the demands of a university education, even in his final year.

The scholarship however covered only tuition and not functional fees. This meant that he had to struggle to raise functional fees and accommodation, since he had moved to University Hall, a male student’s residence on campus.

Shafik’s involvement in student leadership, notably as the president of the Makerere University Environmental Health Students Association (MUEHSA), showcased his commitment to community engagement. Under his leadership, MUEHSA regained its lost glory, organizing conferences, community outreaches, and health education programs.

Shafik Senkubuge receives a gift from NTU's Professor Linda Gibson during the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference. Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Shafik Senkubuge receives a gift from NTU’s Professor Linda Gibson during the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference.

The pinnacle of his leadership journey was marked by the successful organization of the 18th Annual MUEHSA scientific conference, where stakeholders and students converged to discuss pressing environmental health issues. Shafik’s visionary leadership extended beyond MUEHSA, as he became the first College of Health Sciences speaker in the new guild system.

He sends his sincere gratitude to everyone who has been instrumental in mentoring him, especially Mrs. Ruth Mubeezi Neebye and Dr. David Musoke and his staff, whose advice has been priceless. He also extends gratitude to previous classmates. “To my colleagues, I would like to appreciate and congratulate them on this accomplishment. It has been quite a demanding task but we thank the almighty God who has enabled us to reach this far. Let’s remain with that bond, let’s remain friends, let’s not lose the connection and I know if we still work together as we have been working, the sky would be the limit,” he says. 

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Advert: Mature Age Entry Scheme – Private Sponsorship 2024/2025

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Students sit for an exam in the pre-COVID era, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

The Academic Registrar, Makerere University invites applications for the Undergraduate
Programmes under the Mature Age Entry Scheme only for Private Sponsorship for
2024/2025 Academic Year.
Non-Refundable Application fee of Shs. 50,000/= for Ugandans OR $75 Equivalent for
Internationals, plus bank charge should be paid in any of the banks used by Uganda
Revenye Authority after generating a Payment Reference Number (PRN).

  • Apply using the Institution’s Applications Portal URL:https: //apply.mak.ac.ug
  • Application is for candidates who passed the Mature Age Entry Examinations of December 17, 2022 and February 24, 2024 only.
  • Any candidate who passed the examinations in mentioned above and was not admitted on Government/ Private sponsorship for December 17, 2022 sitting, and for Government sponsorship for February 24, 2024 sitting, is eligible to apply for admission on Private Sponsorship for 2024 /2025 Academic Year.

The closing date for applying will be Friday 26th July, 2024.

Further details can be accessed by following this link.

Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza
ACADEMIC REGISTRAR

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Diploma/Degree Holders Admission Lists 2024/25

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Main Library, Makerere University. Photo taken on 29th February 2016.

The Office of Academic Registrar, Makerere University has released lists of Diploma/Degree Holder applicants admitted under Private/Self Sponsorship for the academic year 2024/25. Please note that admission is subject to verification of academic documents by the awarding institutions.

The admission list is displayed here below:

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African Futures Research Leadership Program: Cohort 5 – Call for Scholars

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Participants at the initial AAP convening participate in design-thinking exercises to help imagine the future of partnerships between MSU and Africa. Photo: AAP

The Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) is seeking applicants for the fifth cohort of the AAP African Futures Research Leadership Program. This competitive visiting scholar program supports early career researchers from the AAP consortium to work for one year under the mentorship of faculty members from MSU and their home institution, focusing on building skills in research for impact, writing scholarly and/or policy publications, disseminating of research results, and developing grant proposals for external support. Scholars will also participate in a structured professional development program while building bridges and lasting connections with MSU contacts and across their cohort. 

The main objective of the African Futures program is to strengthen the capacity of a cadre of African researchers to return to their home institutions and become scientific leaders in their community, establish long-term partnerships with MSU faculty, co-create innovative solutions to Africa’s challenges, and in turn become trainers of the next generation of researchers. This program aims to address the gender gap in Africa, where only 30% of researchers are women, so scholars selected for the program will be women, or men who can demonstrate they are committed to support efforts towards gender equity in higher education institutions in Africa. The research areas that the scholars will engage in during the program should be aligned to AAP’s research priority areas

The AAP Management Team requests applications from early career researchers to participate in the next cohort, with work to begin virtually in February 2025. Scholars will spend September – December 2025 at MSU for the in-person portion of the program, followed by another period of virtual collaboration, ending in early 2026. The scholar and mentor team will receive a small grant for research and professional development activities including conference attendance and publication. Scholars will also receive a stipend during their time at MSU, visa application support, and round-trip travel from their home institution.

Eligibility

  • Citizen of an African country 
  • Completion of a PhD degree within the last 10 years 
  • Employed as an Academic Staff member at one of the AAP African consortium universities including Egerton University, Makerere University, University of Dar es Salaam, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Botswana, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, University Cheikh Anta Diop, University of Arts and Humanities, Bamako, United States International University-Africa, and University of Pretoria 
  • Have documented approval of leave or sabbatical to participate in the program for the in-person period 
  • Have a mentor at their home institution that will serve as a collaborator and mentor
  • Research must be in one of the AAP priority areas
  • Applicants may only submit one proposal to AAP in this round of funding. Prior scholars are not eligible to apply. 

To learn more about the program, including how to apply, click below

Learn more

Applications to be an African Futures scholar are due August 18, 2024

Additional program dates:

  • Program start date (virtual): February 2025
  • In-person program: Sept – Dec 2025
  • Program end date: February 2026

Please contact Jose Jackson-Malete at jacks184@msu.edu or +1 517-353-6989 with any questions.

Source: AAP

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