By Bernard Buteera
It was pomp and fanfare as the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program (MCFSP) at Makerere University celebrated the graduation of its highest number of Scholars, during the 73rd Graduation ceremony at Makerere University. The Program held a grand celebration on 17th February 2023 at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala for the 292 Scholars who completed their academic programmes in 2022. This brings the total number of MCFSP alumni to 788.
Rt. Hon. Daniel Fred Kidega, the Chairperson of the MCFSP Advisory Board and Vice Chairperson of Makerere University Council who presided over the ceremony called upon the graduates to be humble, honest, hardworking and focused in order to achieve their goals. “Humility will open doors for you on top your academic credentials” Rt. Hon. Kidega remarked.
He further appealed to the graduates to strategically redesign their career journeys with a focus on five Ps- purpose, people, performance, practice and partnerships.
“There are many things that will make you succeed in life but critical among them is focus; if you go everywhere and follow everyone, you will end up nowhere” Rt. Hon. Kidega counseled.
He reminded Scholars that education was a powerful weapon which they can use to change the world. “As Mastercard Foundation Scholars, this is the opportunity for you to change the world; make all the years of education and empowerment count by transforming your communities, country and the continent of Africa.” Rt. Hon. Kidega remarked.
The Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, in a speech read for him by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Prof. Umar Kakumba, applauded the Mastercard Foundation for the support it renders to young people not only in Uganda and Makerere University, but also all over the world.
“I applaud the support of the Mastercard Foundation that has enabled over 1,000 young people to realize their education dreams at Makerere University, as well as other young people across the world through other partner universities” Prof. Nawangwe remarked.
Prof. Nawangwe, called upon the graduates to make good use of the knowledge and skills they acquired through their respective academic programmes to transform the world.
“You have been equipped with the relevant skillset and determination to make a real difference in a world that is in desperate need of young, energetic and innovative change agents. As you transition into the world of work, seek to remain responsible and compassionate leaders committed to social and economic transformation.” Prof. Nawangwe urged.
On his part, as the Chairperson of the MCFSP Steering Committee, Prof. Umar Kakumba, urged graduates to tap into the various opportunities that the Scholars Program presents to them both during and after their University.
“The Scholars Program is uniquely designed to provide the Scholars with holistic support which includes Mentorship and career guidance, Entrepreneurship, Psychosocial support, Counseling and social support services, as well as experiential learning through volunteerism, Graduate internship opportunities, and job placements through its network of partners. I urge our graduates to make use of these opportunities” Prof. Kakumba remarked.
The Country Director, Mastercard Foundation – Uganda, Mr. Adrian Bukenya noted the partnership with Makerere University since 2013 has been outstanding.
”Mastercard Foundation is proud of the partnership with Makerere University, which began with the Scholars Program in 2013, that has educated and empowered over 1,000 young people to study at Makerere University.” Mr. Bukenya said.
Mr. Bukenya pointed out that the Foundation was happy to support young people beyond the Scholars Program, to ensure that every young person transitions to dignified and fulfilling work.
”As a Foundation we want a world where young people are included and are thriving and their leadership and contributions matter; a future where young people are driving transformative change and achieving their full potential.” Mr. Bukenya said.
Prof. Justine Namaalwa, the Program Coordinator, Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University, informed the gathering that the graduation celebration was not mere merrymaking, but a moment of tangible accountability to the stakeholders of the Scholars Program.
“This day is an opportunity for us to congratulate 292 Scholars (243 Females and 49 Males) upon successfully completing their undergraduate studies, reflect on their journey as they pursued their degree programs, and a great moment to provide tangible accountability to our partner- Mastercard Foundation.” Prof. Namaalwa remarked.
Prof. Namaalwa further revealed that the Scholars excellent academic performance during the 73rd graduation ceremony was clear testimony that there is no correlation between academic brilliance and economic barriers.
“Economic barriers have no correlation with brilliance. All that the youth in economically constrained environments need is an opportunity to access education and they shall be able to contribute to transforming society,” Prof. Namaalwa summed up.
Speaking on behalf of their fellow Scholars, the three representatives; Mr. Ngobi Ambrose, Ms. Juliet Namukhula and Ms. Ajok Mary Valentino, expressed gratitude to Mastercard Foundation and Makerere University for the visionary partnership, which had enabled them to attain university education. They called upon their fellow Scholars to continue with the values of Mastercard Foundation, especially the spirit of giving back to the community.
Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University graduated 292 Scholars out of which 14 attained First Class honours in their respective academic programmes.
This brings the total number of graduates to 788, which is 76% of the 1,032 Scholars who were recruited on the Program.
Bernard Buteera is the Communications Officer, Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.