What you need to know:
- Frank Bamulinde, 24, was once uncertain of his education journey as his mother was financially constrained. However, his hard work and focus saw him top Mbarara University of Science and Technology at the recent graduation with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 4.9.
Frank Bamulinde, 24, scored a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) 4.9 and he was the best student at the 28th Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) graduation this year.
Born to Paul Kizembo and Tereza Nyangoma in Kitoro Village, Matale Sub-County in Kibaale on September 23, 1997, Bamulinde’s parents separated when he was only two years old.
“I grew up with my mother at her parents’ home in Kiruruma Village, Bukonda Parish, Kabasande Sub-County in Kibaale District,” he recalls.
At five years, Bamulinde was enrolled for nursery at St Mary’s Primary School for only one term before joining St Lawrence Primary School from Baby class to Primary Two. He changed schools because his mother was a peasant who was financially constrained.
“For Primary Three, my mother had started a business in Karuguza Trading Centre in Kibaale District and we relocated there. I had to join Bujuni Primary School but she realised it was not the best, I rejoined St Mary’s Primary School for only Primary Four,” he says.
His mother’s financial woes worsened that whenever Bamulinde joined school, he never stayed for long.
“Whenever my mother got financial challenges, she would change my school,” says Bamulinde.
For Primary Five, he rejoined Bujuni Primary School, until he completed his primary education in 2011. There, he scored Aggregate 16.
Without much to choose from, Bamulinde was admitted to St Kirigwajjo Secondary School in 2012.
His mother was determined to keep him in one school. Even then she chose better income-generating projects. She ventured into farming; she grew beans, maize, groundnuts and sold other foodstuffs by the roadside to raise Shs70,000 tuition. He was a day scholar from Senior One to Senior Two. In comparison to his primary school expense, this level was a bit more expensive.
“In primary school, we used to only pay Shs 10,000 for a ream of paper and examinations,” he recalls. “Luckily, I joined the boarding section in Senior Three,” he adds.
His mother was consistent with paying the tuition. Bamulinde scored Aggregate 23 in Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) in 2015.
He had wanted to join a better school but his mother could not afford the fees, so he went back to St Kirigwajjo for A-Level and was offered History, Economics, Divinity (HED/Sub math). He gave his best and scored 15 points in Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) in 2017.
The university dream
His dream of joining university was edging closer after the examinations. Bamulinde put his first choice at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) because he knew that his mother could not afford the financials involved to achieve his dream.
“After my exams my wish was to join university, so I filled joint admissions board (JAB) forms for government scholarship and I chose MUST because I knew they would meet my expectations. Above all, they offered my dream course Business Administration,” he says.
During his Senior Six vacation, he had sought help from his paternal uncle who lived in Kampala who had promised to pay his tuition at the university. Luckily, in May 2018, MUST called him to pick up his admission to study a Bachelor of Business Administration on government sponsorship.
As a faithful church goer, Bamulinde was fighting an innate dream to be a priest. “I used to serve as an altar boy during my secondary school, and I admired priests. I had also applied to join a missionary Congregation of Holy Cross and I got the admission to join their formation house in Jinja early May, 2018,” he says.
Bamulinde was confused on whether to join priesthood or university but “after carefully consulting priests and other people, I was encouraged to first take on the opportunity of government scholarship at MUST which I did in 2018 and started my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration”.
Covid-19 and studies
Studies were going on normally at MUST until Covid-19 raised its ugly head in Uganda and all schools closed on March 18, 2020 until December 2020 when the government allowed partial opening.
“During Lockdown, the University adopted online teaching, I had a smartphone and a laptop. However, my biggest challenge was poor network signal and data bundles because I was in our village where also, there was no electricity,” he says.
“I was forced to shift from my village to my friend’s place at Mzee Paul Tibuhoire’s home in town where there was electricity and good network signal,” he adds.
Bamulinde spent Shs5,000 every three days to purchase data bundles because he never wanted to miss any lecture, discussion and whenever he did not understand the topics covered, he consulted his lecturers.
“The living out allowance was not enough so I would get top up from my mother but it did not come easy,” he says.
Despite the challenges, Bamulinde persevered and the course which would have taken him three years went on for almost five years due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Bamulinde says his love for priesthood still stands, but he hopes to be a professional accountant and an academician which he believes he will achieve.
“I want to go for a Masters in Accounting or Business Administration or do a professional course with Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or Certified Professional Accountant (CPA)”he says.
Resty Nabaggala, Bamulinde’s course mate, who also scored a First Class with CGPA of 4.51, says the journey got tough when they had to study online.
“The journey has been bumpy. We were interrupted by Covid-19. We found ourselves, our minds diverted from school and all of a sudden, the university pushed us to study online where there was no data bundles, poor network signal, so we decided to converge at the university,” she recalls.
Nabaggala says Bamulinde was the brightest in class and he was helpful since he was also the class president.
“He is down to earth, friendly, hardworking and God-fearing. He used to discuss for others and it was not a miracle that he scored a First Class and later on won the whole university but he worked hard for it,” she recalls.