|Africa University graduates 1st health science class, gives 400 degrees
June 14, 2006
|A UMNS photo by Andra Stevens
More than 400 students graduate from Africa University on June 10.
By Andra Stevens*
MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS) — The first class in Africa
University’s school of health sciences was among those graduating at
the school’s 2006 ceremonies.
The Faculty of Health Sciences opened in 2004 with a pioneer group of
six women and two men working for a post-basic bachelor of science
degree in nursing. The school presented its first group of graduates
this year, and Tsitsi Murapa, the sister-in-charge of the University
Health Clinic, was among them.
“You’re sometimes fearful when you’re among the first to do
something,” Murapa said. “Now that I’ve come to the end, I have a new
motto, and I’m ready to share all that I’ve learned with the university
community. The dream of high-quality health care is alive.”
The health science graduates were among the more than 400 receiving
degrees at Africa University’s 12th ceremony June 10. Eleven African
countries — Angola, Botswana, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe —
were represented in the 2006 graduating class.
The drive to succeed and contribute to development in their various countries was evident among the graduates.
Trésor and Héritier Nday are twin brothers from the Democratic
Republic of Congo who studied agriculture. Trésor specialized in
agribusiness and Héritier in crop production. Upon returning to their
home country, the brothers plan to go into commercial farming together.
“We did attachments on farms as part of our program at Africa
University, and this really helped us to put theory into practice. … It
was a very beneficial and meaningful part of our education,” said Trésor
“Although the DRC has primarily been a mining country up to now, it
has great potential for agriculture. … AU has equipped us with the
knowledge and skills to realize our dreams. No subsistence farming for
us; we’re thinking big,” he said.
‘I have a joy’
Many of the graduates described a sense of accomplishment and joy upon reaching this milestone.
“I’m glad that I did not give up and go back home,” said Neide
Epalanga. “I’m now richer in terms of knowledge, and I have a definite
advantage over other Angolans who trained in Portuguese.”
Twenty-five-year-old Epalanga, from Luanda, Angola, now has a bachelor
of science degree in economics from the Faculty of Management &
Administration. Looking back at her four years in the faculty, she gave
much of the credit for her success to her lecturers.
|A UMNS photo by Andra Stevens
Neide Epalanga graduates with a bachelor of science degree in economics.
“My first year here was terrible,” she said. “I couldn’t communicate
in English. I wanted to go back home because of frustration, but our
lecturer, Dr. (William) Humbane, was very good, and he encouraged us and
gave us psychological support. … Later on, (Chris) Njoroge and (Andrew)
Gumbo believed in us and spurred us on. Without all that support and
encouragement, I would not have graduated.”
Epalanga’s sentiments were echoed by 39-year-old Binwell Mtoso of
Malawi. For Mtoso, who trained in the Faculty of Agriculture &
Natural Resources and majored in animal science, staying enrolled was a
constant struggle. He had difficulties paying his fees but relied on his
skills as an amateur photographer to raise extra money. His efforts
earned him a degree and two prizes for outstanding performance in the
area of animal production.
“I have a joy in me because, though I struggled financially, I have
made it,” Mtoso said. “I feel well-prepared and confident. … It won’t be
long before I’m an employer because that’s what I’ve been trained to
A challenge for graduates
All six faculties within the university, as well as its Institute of
Peace, Leadership and Governance, presented candidates for graduation.
In his brief report on the state of the university, Rukudzo Murapa,
university vice chancellor, spoke of the evolving partnerships that are
extending the institution’s service and impact on the continent.
Investment in information technology is revolutionizing teaching,
research and community service, he said. However, enrollment growth is
hampered by a shortage of on-campus housing and teaching facilities.
The graduation ceremony featured Grace Muradzikwa, chief executive
officer of NicozDiamond Insurance Limited, one of Zimbabwe’s leading
short-term insurers. She is secretary to the Africa University Board of
Directors and was recently named the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce Businesswoman of the Year.
She challenged the graduates to “consciously resist being prisoners
to the environment” in which they find themselves. She also urged them
to remain present and involved in their countries’ development and to
resist the pull of more developed nations.
Muradzikwa stressed that principles, performance and servant
leadership are the keys to success. “Leadership today is about the
strength ... to support those you lead and to make them more valuable
for tomorrow’s world,” she said.
In her message, she told the graduates about the intangibles of the
education they received from Africa University, highlighting “ethics and
values, faith, hopefulness and an outward-looking zest that continually
flies in the face of gloomy predictions about Zimbabwe … and Africa as a
whole.” She called the intangible the foundation that will help the
graduates maintain the highest standards of morality and professional
discipline and make a difference in their various nations.
What they’ll miss
As the graduates prepared to return to their homes around Zimbabwe
and across the continent, they highlighted the university’s spiritual
life activities, the mix of cultures and the many friends they made as
the aspects of campus life that they will miss.
“What stands out for me when I look back at my four years is the
choir,” said Chiedza Murombedzi, 22, who just received a bachelor of
science degree in education. “It is through the choir that I was able to
go places, meet lots of different people and minister through song.”
Murombedzi hopes to combine her teaching training with strong
computer skills and an aptitude for commercial subjects, such as
accounting, to specialize in business education as her career develops.
She said she and her fellow graduates have much for which to be
“The spirit of the people behind the scenes in developing this
institution, the board of directors and the volunteers who come from the
USA and elsewhere to help, they show so much love and dedication to the
university. … It is priceless,” Murombedzi said. “As graduates, we need
to do our part to show that we appreciate this support. It has made our
education at Africa University possible, and without it the university
would not be here.”
This year’s graduates bring the number of Africa University alumni to
more than 2,100. Africa University graduates are at work as teachers,
agriculturalists, pastors, business professionals and peace-builders in
communities across the continent.
*Stevens is director of information at Africa University.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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