Rationale currently has three students enrolled in our scholarship program: Gloria, Francis, and Emily. Gloria will begin her first year at university this August, Francis is in S2 (year two) at Gulu Army High School, and Emily will be entering her second year at Lacor Hospital Nursing School (also university). Each student was recently asked to compose a small profile about themselves; this was the result, beginning with Gloria.
Gloria is the first university student to benefit from Rationale’s scholarship program and will begin her studies at either Gulu University or Mbarara University in August. In Uganda, promising secondary students who successfully complete their sixth year of secondary school with passing scores apply to university programs throughout the country. Like the many young Americans who apply for college in their senior year of high school, this is an incredibly exciting time. Students will be challenged more than they ever have before, spend countless sleepless nights studying for their exams, and establish relationships that will last for the rest of their lives.
Gloria cannot wait. She has applied to agriculture, medicine, and IT programs at Gulu University and medicine and nursing programs at Mbarara University. Each university will select the program they believe she will best succeed in given her specializations in secondary school (Gloria’s were biology, chemistry, geography, and agriculture, or BCG/A) and from there she will decide where to attend this Fall. The list of accepted students should be posted any day now and soon a new class of Ugandan youth will begin their university studies for what will be a significant milestone in each of their lives.
“If I could study anything, it would be agriculture,” Gloria responds with a smile across her face, “because most agriculturalists are self-employed. They don’t sit around and wait for things to be done for them; they make their own employment.” Job prospects for agriculture graduates from Gulu University are high right now and residents of Gulu know this well. David (mentor for Rationale) agrees, and self-employment is only one of the paths to success a student studying agriculture can follow: “When a student enters Gulu University for agriculture they know they have a guaranteed job with the government” or by employing themselves, he explains, and this makes all the difference in an uncertain economy.
Gloria’s time working on St. Jude’s food security farm will give her a serious advantage. Each time she visits the farm she is learning valuable skills not only as a student but as a future professional. Gloria received similar training when she went to St. Mary’s Aboke Secondary School for A level (advanced level; years five and six of secondary school). St. Mary’s is known internationally for the mass abduction that took place in 1996 at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The story of the Aboke girls, where 139 young women were abducted from their school and taken to the bush, brought some of the earliest international attention to the conflict in northern Uganda. St. Mary’s has moved forward from this tragic event with great strides and is recognized today as an outstanding center of learning for young women. As part of greater sustainability projects enacted at St. Mary’s, they source nearly all of their food - 85% by some estimates - on site. The students are a major part of this and Gloria has had the benefit of being surrounded by these projects throughout her studies.
(One of many signs hanging on the trees at St. Mary’s Aboke)
Her dream is to one day own her own land on which she is able to put her agriculture degree to good use by being self-employed.
Aside from her studies, Gloria likes to keep busy which often includes picking up the next book on her list. She is currently finishing up an American mystery novel and is eager to begin reading her next choice: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Her friends describe her as “free, sociable/outgoing, honest, respectful, and giving,” and we couldn’t agree more. It is truly an honor to have Gloria represent Rationale’s first class of university students. We look forward to seeing where her bright future will take her! More updates will surely follow!