When Makerere University holds her 71st Graduation in May,2021 two of the graduands will be 1. Ms. NaKato Zora Joy with a BSc. Honours – First Class (CGPA 4.62) degree majoring in Mathematics and a minor in Physics 2. Ms. Ayebare Ruth with a BSc. Honours - First Class (CGPA 4.44) degree majoring in Statistics and a minor in Mathematics. In this month of March as the world celebrates women, we celebrate our top female student performers.
Growing up, Joy’s dream career was Aeronautical Engineering and her first choice for university admission was Mechanical Engineering; both parents being engineers, she wanted to follow in their footsteps. She was admitted to Makerere University for a Bachelor of Science – Physical (Mathematics and Physics). Looking back, she is grateful that she was admitted to study Mathematics and Physics. ‘I chose to major in Mathematics because I saw it as a challenge, it wasn’t my comfort zone’, she says. In addition, Joy noted that she is happy to major in Mathematics because there are so many branches of the subject making it more interesting mentioning Biomathematics which influences health as a highlight.
Joy’s experience at Makerere University is one of growth – intellectually, character and proven resilience. During the three years of study, she had to balance studies and care-giving for her mother who had been diagnosed with stage-4 cancer in her Senior Six vacation. She attributes her high performance to determination, hard work, team-work and support from colleagues. Male students assume that female colleagues are not good enough but I am happy that I was able to achieve a first-class which is proof that both male and female are capable, Joy noted. ‘Don’t be afraid to dream, be willing to work hard towards your dream. My belief is that all people wish to succeed, the difference is effort put in to ensure success. Positive attitude is crucial for success’ Joy said. Her favourite quote is ‘Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% is how you react towards it’ – Charles Swindoll.
Her role model is her late mother who exhibited courage, brilliance, positive attitude, faith, hope throughout life and hopes she can emulate her.
Her parting message: I am humbled by the opportunity to be profiled. She is grateful to her family, friends and lecturers for the support during her studies. She specifically mentioned Dr. Saul Nsubuga (Lecturer – Department of Mathematics) who was very supportive, ‘he held my hand’ she noted. She reiterated that ‘Parents’/ family belief in their children gives them confidence/drive to succeed’.
Joy is currently an intern in the Data Department at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, Entebbe, Uganda. She hopes to undertake post graduate studies (Masters and PhD) and specialise in Statistics and Applied Data Science because of the influence of date on decision making and all spheres of life. Joy wishes to work in academia because of the opportunity to mentor others which her lecturers and teachers did for her. She also hopes to be a wife and a mother.
'I cannot take all the credit for what I have achieved. There's always been that super natural source and that's the Almighty God. At the time I lost my mother in between my finals it's the Grace of God that saw me through to the end.'
‘My dream has always been to be scientist and I have always loved sciences which I consider simple/logic compared to arts subjects which have a lot of notes to read. My first choice programme on my Joint Admissions Board (JAB) application was Quantity Surveying however, I was admitted on Government Sponsorship to study Bachelor of Science – Physical (Statistics and Mathematics)’.
Ruth has fond memories of her stay at Makerere University and is grateful for the support of her lecturers who were very supportive; Dr. Godwin Kakuba (Head – Department of Mathematics) was a mentor whose encouragement she appreciates. She was a class representative which enabled her to seek answers whenever she had challenges. Her motivation to perform highly was initially guided by the University policy to retain the best performers as Teaching Assistants; this policy has since changed. ‘I am happy that because of the hard work I have a first class degree which is start to bigger things, though I wasn’t retained by the University’ she said. A major challenge while at Makerere was doubt from male students who think female students are not worthy of good grades.
Ruth noted that she was able to achieve a first class degree because she set goals to guide her to her target and stayed committed all through her stay at university. Her advice to other female students is to remain confident, work hard and set goals to achieve the intended target; female and male students have equal abilities and one is able to attain what they want.
Her role model is her uncle Prof. Kamukama Nixon (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs) of Mbarara University of Science and Technology whose work in academics she would wish to emulate. Ruth’s earliest memory of Makerere University is attending the PhD graduation party of Prof. Kamukama; at the time she promised herself to join Makerere University for higher education.
Ruth is very grateful to her parents and siblings for the encouragement and support all through her studies. Her message to young people ‘always trust yourself remain committed and work hard’. She also thanks her friends/classmates as reading and discussion partners.
Ruth is currently attending a 1yr online programme offered by the Cloud Academy, California, United States of America to which she was recommended by Dr. Saint Kizito Omala (Head – Statistics, College of Business and Management Studies, Makerere University). She hopes to undertake post graduate studies (Masters and PhD) and work in academia.