|Africa University awards 282 degrees at graduation|
The newest graduates of United Methodist-related Africa
University celebrate at the commencement ceremony June 9 in Zimbabwe.
UMNS photos by Andra Stevens.
By Andra Stevens*
June 19, 2007 | MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)
Africa University celebrated its 13th graduating class by awarding 282
degrees to students from 15 African countries and seeing its first
recipients from two new master's degree programs.
The Board of Global Ministries' Caroline Njuki delivers the commencement address.
The Class of 2007 of the United Methodist-related school also
featured its largest-ever group of recipients for first-class degrees,
which are awarded to students with a cumulative grade point average of
between 3.65 and 4.0.
The private, pan-African school held its commencement ceremonies on June 9.
The class was comprised of 230 undergraduate and 52 graduate students
and featured two pioneer classes—recipients of the master’s degree in
public sector management and the master’s degree in public health.
The first-class degree recipients were spread across four faculties
or disciplines: Education (4), Humanities and Social Sciences (4),
Agriculture and Natural Resources (2) and Management and Administration
"This achievement was by God’s grace," said Unekuojo Haruna, a
Nigerian psychology major and the only non-Zimbabwean among the
first-class degree recipients.
"This achievement was by God’s grace," says Unekuojo Haruna, a
psychology major and recipient of the ZIMRE Prize for the best overall
Haruna maintained her grades and remained active in student
government and community life after her father died last September in
the crash of a Nigerian military aircraft. She was awarded the
university’s most prestigious award, the ZIMRE Prize for the Best
Overall Graduating Student.
"I thank God and I thank my family, friends and lecturers for their support," said Haruna.
Gareth Horsfield also received a first-class degree and was among the
top graduating students in the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural
"I’m shocked and happy at the same time," said Horsfield, who also
was awarded prizes for Best Graduating Student in Animal Science and
Best Overall Graduating Student in his discipline.
"Africa University has just been amazing," he said. "I remember being
worried about coming here on the first day because I thought I would
stick out quite a bit. It (race) has never been an issue, and I’ve never
been made to feel as if I’m any different from any other student on
In fact, campus diversity and cultural interaction are highlights
cited by many of the new graduates. Neusa Joaquim spent four years on
campus, first learning English and then pursuing a bachelor’s degree in
theology. She says the "give and take" involved in living with so many
cultures, backgrounds and personalities has had a positive impact on
"Africa University is a place where you find everything and everyone,
culturally speaking," said Joaquim. "I learned a lot, grew personally
and came out more open-minded and mature."
Joaquim is returning to her country of Angola after graduation.
Throughout her studies, she was supported by the congregation at Belem
United Methodist Church in Luanda, and she’s excited about returning
there to serve.
Athanasius Mphuru awards Gareth Horsfield the prize for best overall
graduating student in the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In her commencement address, Caroline Njuki urged the graduates to give back to society.
"I expect that most of you are here because someone took you by the
hand and started you on the journey to this hour," said Njuki, a staff
member of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries in New York.
"Therefore, you are morally obliged to do the same for another. And the
more money and the more energy and the more influence you have or
accumulate, the more you must do."
Njuki urged the graduates to set an example for honesty and openness regardless of the circumstances.
"Be honest even if you find yourselves trapped in a corrupt economic
environment," she said. "You have learned at this school and need always
to remember that it is wrong to steal, lie or cheat, and to pretend
that you are something other than what you are."
As she ended her address, Njuki appealed to the graduates to remain
engaged with their communities and continent and to "love Africa with
"This continent of ours with its great diversity, its wealth of
resources, and its potential, is our Mother Earth. Claim it! Embrace it!
Care for its people, protect its environment, nurture its cultures and
represent it with pride. You are, after all, its sons and daughters.
Walk straight and tall proclaiming to the world, 'I am proud to be an
African and I am a graduate of Africa University.'"
The members of the 2007 graduating class increased Africa
University’s alumni to more than 2,600 in 14 years of operation. The
first private university to open in Zimbabwe, Africa University opened
in 1992 with 40 students from six African countries. Its current annual
enrollment is 1,300. The institution offers degrees in agriculture,
business and public administration, education, health sciences, the
humanities and social sciences, peace and governance, and theology.
*Stevens is director of information and public affairs at Africa University.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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