Philip Waiswa Reflects On His Path Through College

The following is a guest post written by KEF Alumnus, Philip, a Health Information Systems Analyst in Uganda.

I enrolled in my bachelor’s degree program in September 2014. I was admitted in January 2015 for a Bachelor of Information Systems and Technology at Uganda Technology And Management University. I had enough tuition for the first semester and half that for the second semester of the same year. I so much loved to be a programmer.

Life wasn’t that simple on campus.

I did not have enough money to take me to school and leave something to cater for my meals. I was staying in Makerere Kikoni but the campus is in Bugolobi, which is about 10 kilometers away. I went to school with students who had nice clothes, nice perfumes and they clearly never wanted to associate with me the first semester.

I had a passionfruits plantation which helped me with the tuition and it was all serving well, until when a neighbor started harvesting on our behalf, without our consent and denying saying he did not know who was taking the harvest.

At the end of the first year, I got a paid internship opportunity at the same university and this money helped me a lot in paying my rent arrears, getting some clothes and I bought my first used cracked smartphone.

The second-year was not clear and I honestly thought it was all done just like that. The internship only catered for four months and it was also gone. I went and requested to continue with my internship as I study, which was accepted and because I was working with the administration, they let me sit for my exams with a full semester debt. They however needed their money since the university was not very old and it had few students. It only survived on the tuition we used to pay.

One day, my Dad heard about some scholarship scheme that someone talked about but did not have enough information, but he could remember the word "Kapadia".

I searched for it on [the] Internet and found it. I downloaded the forms and applied. My name appeared on the pending list where I found applicants whose applications had been pending for more than a year. I called Dad and told them this was a dead end. We gave up much as I had submitted everything.

After just a few months, I received an email from Ms. Sloane Kohnstamm, congratulating me on my successful consideration. This was just a few weeks before the end of semester two exams for the second year. I got back on track and I was the happiest.

Now, I did not have a laptop and did not have any hopes of getting one. I raised the issue to Mr. Pradeep Kapadia who said he had some laptop he could send but they had to wait since sending a single piece would cost them. Somehow this was also sent in just a few months and I managed to do my final year project on my own machine.

I have just a lot to say. I now have a temporary contract with the ministry of health Uganda supported by the Center for Diseases Control, CDC and I am the Health Information Systems Analyst. I am employed because God helped me get the grades, and I needed with your support to fund my schooling. I can’t thank you enough. I have not replied to many of your emails because they keep on going into social folders even when I flag them back but am very grateful.

I will one day pay it forward, not just in the community like I had promised, but also by paying someone’s tuition even if for just one semester. What you did is just what I needed and no one near me could help. God had bigger plans.

-Waiswa, Philip