MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)—Speaking to the 450 new graduates, Daniel Sherrard, provost of Earth University, San José, Costa Rica, told the 19th graduating class of United Methodist-related Africa University that the solution to the world’s problems lay in their capable hands.
Sherrard pointed out that most of the students came from humble backgrounds but their training at AU has prepared them to be leaders—agents of change.
Patience Awadhi, a Congolese woman who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, is a good example of what Sherrard means. Awadhi is the first born in a family of eight. Her father works in a store and her mother sells vegetables at the local market.
She is hopeful her degree will open doors.
“It has been a long four years, and when I think of it, I can’t help but to be amazed by what God has done for me,” she said. Awadhi came to Africa University without speaking a word of English, but on June 8, she received a first class degree.
“It was sheer hard work, and determination, and yes, I was expecting this distinction, I worked so hard.”
Awadhi’s family couldn’t be with her at the ceremony, but she believes she is set for a true homecoming.
“I have set a good example for the younger ones,” she says. Awadhi hopes to study further and enroll for her master’s degree at Africa University in Peace and Governance and work at the community level in peace-building efforts.
Sherrard urged graduates to play a part in the development of their nations and give back to society.
The over-arching theme in his address was that the Africa University graduating class of 2013 had been privileged to get access to higher education, because only 5 percent of the youth from the sub-Saharan Africa world got the opportunity to gain access to higher education.
But, he added, with that privilege came responsibility.
He told stories of hope of the Earth University alumni from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Uganda who were educated through scholarships and who followed their dreams in playing a positive role in their respective communities to change the world.
He urged the graduands to follow their dreams.
Class of 2013
In the 2013 graduating class, female students constituted 58 percent of the graduating students.
“This gender ratio clearly indicates our efforts to empower the girl child and our efforts to remain an equal opportunity institution,” said Fanuel Tagwira, vice chancellor and professor.
Three of the 450 students were the first to receive a master in public policy and nine were the first to receive master’s degrees in child and families studies. Another 55 students in the executive master in business administration program were the first to graduate from both the Harare and Mutare locations.
Thirty students graduated with master’s degrees in Intellectual Property offered by Africa University, the World Intellectual Property Organization and the African Regional Property Organization.
Forty-three students received master’s degrees from the Public Sector Management Training Program offered in collaboration with the African Capacity Building Foundation.
Mercy Rehema Oduori from Kenya received the overall prize for the best graduating student at Africa University. She was conferred with a bachelor’s degree in Divinity, with honors and was a first class degree holder.
In his graduation address, Tagwira paid tribute to the dedicated faculty of Africa University who worked hard in mentoring and teaching students. He also expressed his appreciation to all those who paid fees for the students, “without you, these graduands would not be here today; exuberant and joyful for four years of university education is a sacrifice for most people.”
“We also recognize the tremendous generosity and selfless contributions for this institution from many ordinary United Methodists across the world.”
To date, Africa University now has 5,000 alumni on the African continent.
*Muonwa, Information and Public Affairs Office, Africa University