Kampala. More than 14,000 students are graduating at the 67th Makerere University convocation with 260 of the students coming out with First Class degrees.
And best overall is Ms Sarah Namboozo from the affiliate Makerere University Business School (Mubs), Nakawa, with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. She emerged top, beating her male counterparts with a Cumulative Grade Point Average [CGPA] of 4.92.
Ms Nambooze, now a boss of her own, did not hide her excitement when Daily Monitor visited her at her office.
“Before the results came out, I was not expecting to emerge as the best in the whole of Makerere University, but I was expecting to be one of the best,”
“It is overwhelming because Makerere is the biggest university and topping it as the best students is really exciting, even more exciting is being interviewed by Daily Monitor, one of the best print media houses, is a real big deal,” Ms Nambooze said.
Born to Mr Jackson Wodeya and Ms Ms Beatrice Mugide of Sironko District, Ms Namboozo never got the chance to be raised by her biological parents.
Her mother being a single parent was not able to raise all her school fees so she was taken on at a tender age by her auntie she refers to as her godmother, Ms Ann Omala, who paid her school fees from primary to the university. She credits her for all the success.
“For all of my life, I did not stay with my parents. I have lived with my godmother, who is my mother’s sister, and her family has become mine for all the years. I have always called her my mother and her husband, Mr Wonaso, my father; because they have provided all my needs since childhood,” Ms Namboozo says as tears roll down her cheeks.
But none of these affected her concentration since her godmother ensured she had everything she needed to be in school.
But not all was rosy for Ms Nambooze as her performance was not consistent even when she insists was a bright student although the grades did not reflect what she always wanted.
At her Primary Leaving Examination [PLE], she attained Aggregate 8 from St Peter’s Primary School Nsambya in Kampala. At O-Level, she scored Aggregate 28 in 10 subjects, while she posted 13 points in Physics, Economic, Mathematic and Entrepreneurship [PEM/E] at A-Level at St. Augustine College.
But the 13 points couldn’t allow Ms Nambooze entry for medicine at Makerere University, forcing her to settle for the marketing course.
Being an evening programme, Ms Nambooze secured a day-time job that enabled her attend classes in the evening. Soon, Ms Nambooze put all her efforts in books, associated with bright students who formed her discussion group.
“I wanted to stand out of the crowd so I identified fellow students whom we had something in common with, formed a group of five for constant discussions, and consulted lecturers “ Ms Namboozo says. It’s not surprising, therefore, that Ms Namboozo is now a boss of her own, having started with her group, a marketing firm - Pixels International, employing more than 18 people. Ms Namboozo now wants to apply for a scholarship for a Master in Marketing in Europe to advance her career.
Kibuuku star paid own fees
Meanwhile, Mr Rogers Mukalele, who emerged second best student at Makerere University, hails from Kibuku District and was from the affiliate Jinja campus. His story of success is not any different from the one of Ms Nambozo. He sweated his way through his tuition but still managed to get a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.91.
To raise his tuition, Mr Mukalele used to moonlight at Jinja College and says the struggle and pain forced him to work harder, saying his First Class did not come as a surprise because he was determined right from day one.
“At first, I had a government scholarship but studying a Bachelor of Education, I relaxed and wasted time and at the end I did not graduate. Later on, my school asked for my documents and I did not have; that’s how I applied for Information Technology at Makerere University, but studying at the Jinja Campus,” adding that being a private student paying for himself made him more focused
But Mr Mukalele was no ordinary student. At PLE, he got Aggregate 6 at Nkumba Primary School, and went on to join Iganga High School where he sat for O-Level and scored Aggregate 16. He then proceeded for A-Level at Jinja College for PEM/ENT where he scored 16 points and was retained as a teacher of computer.
Mr Mukalele attributes his success to determination, discussions with fellow students and the intervention of the Divine, and hopes to undertake a Master become a lecturer.
Ms Gloria Lynn Nyakake got a First Class with a CGPA of 4.54 in Bachelor of Human Nutrition from the College of Agricultural and Environment Sciences. Despite her sterling performance, Ms Nyakake says she would have performed better if the Academic staff at Makerere was more organized.
“there was a lot of poor coordination between Mulago Medical School and the university. We missed many lessons because you would find a lecturer supposed to teach you is attending to emergencies at Mulago,” she said, adding that made them study even some difficult topics by themselves.
Ms Nyakake went to some of the country’s best schools, and getting Aggregate 4 at PLE from Hormisdallen School in Kyebando, Kampala, before joining Mt St Marys Namagunga where she scored Aggregate 11, and later joined Gayaza High School for her A-Level where she got 19 points in PCB/FN.
Employed by classmate
Mr Amis Mugaruru, who got a First Class with a CGPA of 4.82 from Makerere Business School, is an employee of the best female student, Ms Sarah Nambooze.
Mr Mugarura says he used to be the last in lower primary but this did not stop him from aiming higher.
He got Aggregate 9 in PLE, Aggregate 36 in UCE and 16 points in UACE, having been expelled from school in third term of Senior Five.
He says despite not paying his fees on time, his good performance enabled him to be allowed to do exams and pay up later.
Mr Mugarura says in 2015, he was selected as the best male student in his class and he went to Sweden for an exchange programme and now plans to apply for Master at the same university.
Daily Monitor also spoke to Solomon Murungi, a student of Information Technology, who could not hide his excitement after earning a First Class with a cumulative grade point average of 4.46. “ I knew I would get a First Class and this was not a surprise, I set my goals when in my vacation, my first day at Makerere I told myself I have to get a First Class and I really worked hard for it,” said Mr Murungi.
Balancing books and church
Mr Jacob Katumusiime from the school of Education and External Studies also managed to pull off a First Class with a CGPA of 4.46 in Bachelor of Education, majoring in Education and Literature.
To him, getting a First Class was challenging because he had to balance books with leadership and church ministry. “ I had a lot of friends whom I was giving time to more than myself. I used to discuss for them all the time, I think I would have performed better if I gave enough time to myself,” he said. Mr Katusiime also says the issue of affording food was very challenging and he would spend a whole week without eating but this did not stop him from reading harder. He is already teaching at Hana International School and would wish to go for further studies and major in creative writing.
We also caught up with former Makerere University vice president, Ms Phiona Nyamutoro, who could not hide her excitement saying it was hard to believe her achievement.
Nyamutoro got a First Class with a CGPA of 4.43 in Bachelors of Development studies.
She says she had to work hard to fulfill her dream of being the best student.
Ms Nyamutoro went to Najjera progressive for primary and got Aggregates 7, joined Paliisa Secondary School for O-Level, and 34 points at A_level before she joined Bweyogerere SS where she scored 19 points.
The issues at hand
How to get a First Class degree. When one gets a First Class degree, it means she or he scored only an average of 80% in all the course units throughout all semesters.
How degrees are classified at Makerere. To get a First Class honours degree one needs to have a cumulative grade point average of 4.40 to 5.00, Second class honour degree Upper Division you are required to score between 3.60 to 4.39. For a Lower Classs degree, one needs to have 2.80 to 3.59 and for a Pass Degree, one has to be in the average of 2.00 to 2.79.
Past. Last year, a total of 286 students graduated with a First Class honours degree, among them were 118 female who made up a percentage of 41 while 168 were male making up 51 per cent.