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Ex-Nigerian President, Dr Zeija Tip Graduands at Cavendish University Uganda’s 11th Graduation Ceremony

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Ex-Nigerian President, Dr Zeija Tip Graduands at Cavendish University Uganda’s 11th Graduation Ceremony
A graduand celebrating.

By Noah Owomugisha & Samuel Kamugisha

Jonathan Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Principal Judge Dr Flavian Zeija have tipped graduands of Cavendish University Uganda (CUU) on how to navigate life after school in a fast changing society.

President Jonathan, who is the CUU Chancellor, and Dr Zeija spoke at the 11th graduation ceremony of the leading private university on August 25. A total of 1,050 students were awarded degrees and conferred diplomas in different disciplines at an event held at Speke Resort Munyonyo.

At the same function, CUU also launched two journals: the Cavendish University Journal of Social Sciences and Management as well as the Cavendish University Journal of Law.

Jonathan and Zeija spoke after a number of university officials had addressed the graduands and their parents, crowning the ceremony that was filled with jubilation and pieces of advice.

Vice Chancellor Prof John Mugisha noted that there was remarkable improvement in teaching and learning. He revealed that the university has improved its internal processes, including assessment mechanisms, the turnaround time for marking and grading, student admission procedures, lecturer class attendance and learner academic support through student peering tutoring and establishment of general academic consultation clinics.

Prof Mugisha saluted the University’s Board for the counsel and guidance as well as staff for their hard work, resilience and innovations that made it possible for the institution to surpass its pre-pandemic performance. The VC also expressed confidence that the graduands have what it takes to change society.

“We have equipped you with knowledge, skills and competences and exposed you to a rigorous academic process enriching the cocktail of sufficient in-class and out-of-class experiences. With those, I am very confident that you will confront this world with courage and optimism and what President Barack Obama called the audacity of hope,” Prof Mugisha told the graduands.

“Please remember that the awards you are getting today are not in any way meant to be an end to learning; rather, they are a beginning.”

The Vice Chancellor was pleased to note that CUU won this year’s Platinum Consumers Choice Award for the best private university in Uganda as opposed to the previous years when the institution was bagging golden awards.  The award, Prof Mugisha explained, is a recognition of CUU’s business excellence.

He also recognized two CUU students who were recently appointed to positions of responsibility in government. These are: Emmanuel Olaunah, a CUU student of Master of Laws, who was appointed to the Public Service Commission, and Micheal Taremwa, another law student, who was appointed the Managing Director of the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL).

On his part, Prof Olubayi Olubayi, the Chairperson of the University Council, noted that the work of building CUU has been a collective project in which Council has continuously consulted the Advisory Board, National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and other scholars the world over on how to construct a university for the 21st Century. His message to the graduands was aligned with the institution’s theme for this year: ‘University through Covid19: Strategies for Recovering and Surpassing Pre-Pandemic Performance.’

Prof Olubayi encouraged graduands to keep learning, including using their smartphones which he described as ‘global libraries’ with billions of learning materials.

“So, I would urge you all graduands of today to commit yourselves to continuous learning and to identify problems you can solve for the community. If you identify a problem to solve, you will automatically make money with honesty and according to the Cavendish University pledge of ethical leadership,” said the Council Chairperson.

“We must all become competent in all the skills of Fourth the Industrial Revolution, including the commitment to lifelong learning.”

PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN’S MESSAGE

Ex-Nigerian President, Dr Zeija Tip Graduands at Cavendish University Uganda’s 11th Graduation Ceremony
President Goodluck Jonathan

Chancellor Jonathan saluted President Museveni, his host and “brother” for “all the good things he is doing for Uganda and Africa in terms of promoting education and his overall development initiatives.”

He then congratulated the graduands, their parents and sponsors “for reaching such a big milestone as they have attained today.”

Having been a student at undergraduate and postgraduate level as well as a lecturer, Goodluck Jonathan said he was well aware of the rigorous process students go through to reach graduation. He noted that it takes hard work, extra effort and commitment to reach the final stage.

He also observed that in universities the world over, not all students who start their study programs are able to complete due to financial constraints and academic issues, social pressure and emotional challenges (such as during the Covid19 pandemic times), among other challenges. “I therefore applaud you for your resilience and commitment to success,” the former Nigerian president told the graduands, before congratulating parents and guardians.

“As a parent, I know how anxious parents can be when their children are pursuing university education knowing that unlike secondary school there is less monitoring and fewer social regulations based on the assumption that university students are mature learners. Sometimes these assumptions are not correct and students easily fall prey to attractions of urban life where most universities are located. I therefore know your excitement as parents on seeing your children climb the academic field to the very top. I congratulate you all dear parents and guardians.”

He also congratulated the university teaching and non-teaching staff for a job well done in transforming students into knowledgeable and skilled professionals who are sought after by industry and other employers.

The chancellor further praised the university’s administration and leadership for ably steering the institution to surpass its pre-pandemic performance at a time when other universities are struggling to recover from the effects of the Covid19 pandemic. He was pleased that despite the pandemic, most CUU academic staff have attained doctoral and other professional qualifications.

Goodluck Jonathan was equally excited to note that the university had received seven specialist academic staff at doctoral level, including professors from Nigeria.

He also expressed pleasure at the news of the election of CUU Vice Chancellor Prof Mugisha to the board of the Inter-University Council of East Africa (IUCEA), a regional body coordinating university activities; and to the regional research and development working group of the East African Technology Commission. He further congratulated the VC on receiving an outstanding alumni award from Uganda Martyrs University, his alma mater.

According to Chancellor Jonathan, Prof Mugisha’s appointments are a sign of recognition of the contribution the university was making in the region.

“I congratulate you Prof John Mugisha upon climbing to such heights. I know that you will become an effective ambassador of Cavendish University Uganda.”

The Chancellor further praised the university’s administration for establishing a modern laboratory for physical sciences to support the program for higher education certificates. He said that as a person with a science background, he was well aware that sciences must be practical in order to be effective.

He also praised students in the CUU Faculty of Law for raising the university’s flag high by winning the National Rounds for International Humanitarian Law Moot Court Competition 2022, and for emerging among the top 10 in Africa.

He also hailed the collaboration between CUU and other universities, saying this would facilitate the exchange of ideas and creation of opportunities for students and faculty. He reminded officials from all the universities attending Cavendish graduation that collaboration was better than competition, and that there was a lot universities could achieve by working together.

Saluting the university’s leadership for a job well done, Goodluck Jonathan noted that there was still a lot to be done but assured the institution’s bosses of his support.

He also emphasized CUU’s commitment to continuous removal of barriers to access to education by offering scholarships to talented and brilliant students who have financial limitations, and connecting others to loan schemes.

President Jonathan described the education offered at CUU as ‘industry relevant,’ especially given how much most of the alumni are being praised by employers, with some appointed to big offices of responsibility.

“We will continue to ensure that our curriculum intersects and engages with the social and the economic challenges within the national, regional, continental and global context,” he added, further emphasizing how CUU was preparing students for a fast-changing world due to technology advancements that require relearning.

DR ZEIJA’S ADVICE

President Goodluck Jonathan
A group photo showing President Goodluck Jonathan, Principal Judge Dr Flavian Zeija, and other university officials as well as other stakeholders.

When he stood to deliver his remarks, Principal Judge Dr Zeija saluted the graduands for wisely investing their time, effort and parents’ money. He told them to celebrate and be proud of their achievements “but most importantly be ready to defend your qualifications by making a positive impact in your society.”

Zeija also made it clear to the graduands that whatever their parents own is not theirs (graduands’) and that their parents’ success does not necessarily mean that they (the children) too will be successful. “Their success should act as a springboard to your own success. Imagine your parents who you think are rich were to die – and God forbid – a will is read and you find that they have given you nothing, what would be your next step? The best way to appreciate what you have is to imagine yourself without it,” the Principal Judge noted.

He advised graduands to avoid short term solutions such as drugs, destructive social behaviors and utopian ideas. He further urged them to set smart goals in life, believe in God for He is the Creator, but also always remember that God helps those who help themselves.

“The Israelis and Saudis where Jesus and Mohammed were born are the most hardworking people on earth. The idea of manna falling from heaven is utopian. You can believe in miracles but miracles happen to those who work for them but not those who pray for them,” he added.

Zeija further told the graduands that instructions end in school classrooms but education only ends in life. He emphasized that learning was a continuous process and that even lecturers learn from their students. He equally informed them that education was not preparation for life but life itself and that they would continue to do education even after graduation.

Further noting that an investment in knowledge always pays the best interest, the Principal Judge told the excited graduands that the reason they came to university was to be able to make a difference. He encouraged them to be patriotic by diligently serving their communities and country.

He also called on the graduands to be good ambassadors for their university and nation for which, he added, they are the builders, foundation and pillars.

“Be the voice and face of your country and of Africa. Our reputation as a country and as a continent depends on the sum of our actions – yours is mine. We can take Africa to the level of other continents during our time if we work hard and are not selfish and corrupt,” he said. He also emphasized the need for graduands to shun corruption. “You can have all the money in the world but if you lack integrity, all means nothing,” he noted.

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