Dallas-based Ugandan scholars ally with church to mentor students, parents

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By EADM Correspondent

In Summary: This is the first-ever career guidance and professional development workshop conducted by the Dallas-based Ugandan scholars in partnership with a church to mentor and inspire students, parents, and other working adults. Designed to be informative, interactive, transactional, and interesting, participants will glimpse into the 21st Century career needs; interact with tested professionals with real-life experiences; be inspired to aspire and inspire change; glean through information about how to scale individual ambitions to higher levels; and how to Live, continuously Learn, and thrive in the 21st Century. The Foundation for Transformative Education and Community Engagement (FOTECE), founded in 2013 by Ugandan born individuals who have attained higher education in the United States, are “hybrid” professionals’ whose life experiences both in Uganda and the United States have prepared them to champion transformative education through community initiatives.

Some of the founder members of FOTECE (L-R) Dr. Michael Kaluya, Dr. Samuel Muwanguzi, Dr. Eugene Arigye, Dr. Julius Sonko

Hurst, Texas--The first-ever career guidance and professional development workshop on the theme: “Toward Guiding and Inspiring Youngsters and Working Adults to Thrive in the 21st Century” has been planned for all members of the Ugandan community living in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area, the organizers announced here Saturday. A statement from the Foundation for Transformative Education and Community Engagement (FOTECE and the Heavenly Bridge Church (HBC) in conjunction with the leadership of the Ugandan-American Association of Greater Dallas-Fort Worth (UAA-DFW) invite all members of the UAA-DFW community to a free career guidance and professional development workshop.  It will take place on Saturday March 10, 2018 from 2:00PM-5:00PM at the Heavenly Bridge Church located at 805A W Pipeline Rd. Hurst, TX 76053.  The 3-hour informational and interactive workshop, the first of its kind for Ugandans living in the DFW area, aims to mentor and inspire children, students, parents, and other working adults, the organizers said.

The President of the Ugandan-American Association of Greater Dallas-Fort Worth (UAA-DFW), Cyrus Mukisa

“This is a workshop that will surely benefit our people and we are proud of the experts in our community who have come out to share their skills and resources with the community,” Cyrus Mukisa, the UAA-DFW president told the EADM in a phone interview. He said the leadership endorses and supports such partnerships to help inspire youngsters and move the entire community forward. “When children, students, parents, and working adults interact with experienced professionals from their own community, they open-up, freely exchange information, and strive to accomplish what they previously thought was impossible,” the UAA-DFW supremo said. “I urge all parents to bring their children and students and the working adults to embrace this opportunity and come prepared to take the first step to future prosperity,” Mr. Cyrus Mukisa urged.

Dr. Susan Namalefe Thorpe, the executive secretary of FOTECE

“The workshop is one way of giving back to the UAA-DFW community, a modest way of saying thank you to a community that has nurtured us, celebrated with us, and shared in our challenges, a statement issued by FOTECE read in part. “It is also an initial step in a more comprehensive and transformative community engagement program due to be launched in Uganda soon,” the FOTECE statement added. The workshop is “designed to be informative, interactive, transactional, and above all, interesting,” Dr. Susan Namalefe Thorpe, the executive secretary of FOTECE told the   EADM in an interview. Attendees will include children, students, parents, and all working adults as equal participants, Dr. Namalefe said.  Benefits to participants will include glimpses into the 21st Century career needs; interactions with tested professionals with real-life experiences; inspirations to aspire and inspire change in others;  and information about how to scale individual ambitions to higher levels, the statement said. Other expected benefits include how to align one’s mind, body, and soul to one’s goals; how to Live, continuously Learn, thrive; and many others, according to organizers.

Pastor Moses Akitwine of the Heavenly Church

Both the Foundation for Transformative Education and Community Engagement (FOTECE) and the Heavenly Bridge Church (HBC) are committed to giving back to the community with FOTECE offering a wide skills' repository, proven expertise, a mastery of professional theory and real-world experiences. Equally, the HBC offers a “dynamic skill base, a generous and liberal spirit, and the ability to network with various professionals to mentor, guide, and benefit the community, especially, children,” Pastor Moses Akitwine said. Pastor Akitwine has predicted that great things will happen as a result of this innovative engagement. “Come and see, come and receive, come and learn for life and try to live better,” Pastor Akitwine assured.

The pioneer Ugandan Diaspora higher education organization, the Foundation for Transformative Education and Community Engagement (FOTECE), was established in 2013 by a team of Ugandan scholars studying, working, and residing in North America. This team of scholars organized the first-ever higher education forum during the 25th annual convention of the Uganda North American Association (UNAA) held in Dallas, Texas in 2013. The forum highlighted significant presentations and discussions that were timely for the Ugandan scholars to champion practical based education that could contribute to the development of Uganda. The Minister of State for Higher Education Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo attended the forum on behalf of the government to provide an avenue for the implementation of the championed transformative educational ideas in the country.

The Minister of State for Higher Education Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo

Other educators from Uganda who attended included three university vice chancellors; Dr. John Senyonyi of Uganda Christian University, Prof. Nyeko Pen-Mogi of Gulu University and chairman of the higher education council, and Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba of Uganda Technology and Management University and the board chairman of the Makerere University Business School. Building on the momentum from the forum, the team of scholars resolved to ensure that the forum’s theme “Transformative Higher Education in Uganda:  Innovation, Partnerships and Development” became a practical reality through the formation of FOTECE.

The founders of FOTECE are Ugandan born individuals who have attained higher education in the United States. They are “hybrid” professionals’ whose life experiences both in Uganda and the United States have prepared them for this initiative. The mission of FOTECE is to facilitate the educational system that enables communities to transform themselves through technical and vocational training and its vision is to create communities capable of harnessing available resources for sustainable cultural, social and economic development.  The overarching goal of FOTECE is to practically contribute to the ongoing policy initiatives to transform the education system to meet the needs of individuals and local communities by training and equipping Ugandans with state-of-the-art technical skills that will propel the country into a middle-income status. While executing its mission, FOTECE seeks to integrate critical thinking skills to holistically provide trainees with strategic communication skills, problem solving abilities, creative thinking, collaborative learning, and a sense of self-esteem. Additionally, FOTECE strongly emphasizes the development of ethical standards among trainees to ensure that they conduct themselves with integrity according to universally acceptable standards of honesty, compassion, and loyalty to humanity, their respective communities, themselves, and their country.

The Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga while touring the TSTC in 2016

The Foundation for Transformative Education and Community Engagement (FOTECE) has evolved and developed the capacity to connect institutions and individuals in the Diaspora to partner with the government of Uganda and other stakeholders in developing its human resources and fighting unemployment as one of the strategies towards the realization of Vision 2040. To that end, during the East African Chamber of Commerce conference held in Dallas in 2016, FOTECE led the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and a team of MPs on a visit to one of the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) campuses, an institute identified by FOTECE as a partner to provide the much-needed technical training to trainers of trainers and to establish state-of-the-art technical colleges in Uganda. Following a tour of the TSTC, the Speaker, the college administrators, and the leaders of FOTECE agreed to ensure that a practical and mutual partnership comes to fruit.

A cross-section of delegates who were taken to TSTC to tour the technical college.

Meanwhile, FOTECE continues to reach out to other highly qualified Ugandans in the Diaspora with wide-ranging expertise and experiences to collaborate and participate in the transformation of Uganda’s higher education. The foundation is also seeking and developing partnerships with other institutions in the United States to facilitate and sponsor technical training to Ugandan youths to help reduce the spiraling rate of unemployment in the country estimated at nearly 80 percent. FOTECE considers technical training for trainers as a foundation on which sustainable development of Uganda can be based.

Dr. Lillian Butungi Niwagaba

The founders of FOTECE include Lillian Butungi Niwagaba, Ph.D, the chairperson and an Assistant Professor at the New York Institute of Technology and a director of the Center for Global Health. Dr. Butungi Nuwagaba was most recently the director of education programs in the Office of the Associate Dean for Global Health at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Her background spans student support services and administration, educational innovation, research management and global health.  She holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas, an MBA from SMU and a Bachelors of Arts from Makerere University. Her recent work has focused on building collaborative partnerships with universities in the global south on higher education development including leadership and research capacity building, student and faculty exchanges, community engagement, resource mobilization and technology transfer.  

Dr. Julius Sonko

Julius Sonko, Ph.D., a co-founder and the finance director of FOTECE, earned his doctorate in higher education leadership from the Dallas Baptist University, Texas; a Master of Management in financial services and a Master of Business Administration in information technology both from the University of Dallas, Texas. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and a Diploma in Business Administration both from Makerere University Business School, Uganda.  Dr. Sonko has over ten years of university teaching experience and currently teaches at Dallas Baptist University in Dallas, Texas. He previously taught at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and at Northwood University in Cedar Hill, Texas. He has also worked at Bank of America as an Online Banking Specialist.  Dr. Sonko has authored a book titled “A Brief on Distance Education in Sub-Saharan Africa and has contributed a chapter in an edited book; Promoting Active Learning through the Integration of Mobile and Ubiquitous Technologies.”  Dr. Sonko is the founder and CEO of Excel Business and Education Consulting for small business organizations and the founder of Eatbeta International Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a vision to evangelize Africa through business empowerment and transformation of agriculture.   

Dr. Samuel Muwanguzi

Samuel Muwanguzi, Ph.D., the communication and media director and co-founder of FOTECE, is an independent scholar, researcher, and educator.  Dr. Muwanguzi earned his PhD in information sciences and a Masters in Communication Studies from the University of North Texas; a Bachelor of Arts and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education from Makerere University Kampala, Uganda. With several publications in peer-reviewed scholarly journal and edited books, Dr. Muwanguzi research interests lie at the intersection of culture and new information and communication technologies (NICTs) in diverse social contexts. He has over six years of university teaching experience at the University of North Texas, Denton. Most recently, he served as an Adjunct Professor of communication with the Tarrant County College at Trinity River Campus in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Muwanguzi trained as a journalist in Germany, United Kingdom, South Africa, and the Netherlands; and worked in the Media field in Uganda in different capacities for fourteen years. The founder and CEO of Horizon InfoCom Innovations LLC and editor of the East African Diaspora Media (EADM) Watch, Dr. Muwanguzi has consulting and training expertise and experience in human resource management, project design, monitoring, and evaluation, and strategic communication in health, intercultural, and political communication. He is a professional journalist, teacher, strategic communicator, information specialist and consultant.  

Dr. Michael Kaluya

Michael D. Kaluya, Ph.D., the program director and co-founder of FOTECE, is an associate professor of economics at Tarrant county college, Northeast Campus in Hurst, Texas. He holds a doctorate in Business Administration (Public Administration) from Northcentral University, Prescott, Arizona. Dr. Kaluya earned two masters degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in International Political Economy and in Political Science. He had earlier received a Master of Business Administration degree in International Business & Economics from Dallas Baptist University where he completed his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration & Economics. Dr. Michael Kaluya, author of “The Audacity to Change! Breaking the Berlin Wall in Africa”, previously served as an adjunct professor of economics, business, & management at Cedar Valley College, Lancaster, Texas. He is a co-founder and CEO of RMJ Business Solutions, LLC, and a co-founder and Chairman of New Horizon Christian Education Foundation. Dr. Kaluya is a consultant with Center for Public Policy & Global Business Initiatives in areas of institutional intelligence, public policy and international business.   

Dr. Christine Margaret Okurut-Ibore

Christine Margaret Okurut-Ibore, Ph.D., the vice chairperson and co-founder of FOTECE, is a lecturer at Uganda Christian University, Mbale Constituent College. She holds a PhD in Education with a focus on institutional analysis from North Dakota State University; a Masters of Education from Leeds University, UK; and a Bachelor of Education from Makerere University, Uganda. Dr. Christine Okurut-Ibore has over 25 years of experience in the education profession at academic and operational levels. These include senior management positions at national, regional and international levels with Save the Children Norway, Uganda; Oxfam GB in Tanzania; Save the Children Alliance in Indonesia and Aga Khan Foundation in East Africa. She is keen in research and in directing programs toward success through innovative quality initiatives.   

Dr. Eugene Angelo Arigye

Eugene Angelo Arigye, Ph.D., the director for external affairs and a co-founder of FOTECE, holds a doctorate in Administrative and Policy Studies and a Doctoral Certificate in African Studies both from the University of Pittsburgh, USA. He earned his Master’s in Public Management and Policy Analysis from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies and a Bachelor of Philosophy degree both from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. Dr. Arigye has a wide experience in policy formulation and implementation especially in the health and education sectors; has taught in higher institutions of learning in Uganda; and consulted with Universities and Companies in USA.

Dr. Susan Allen Namalefe Thorpe

Susan Allen Namalefe Thorpe, Ph.D., the executive secretary and co-founder of FOTECE, earned her doctorate in education from the University of North Texas (UNT). She is an experienced educator in multiple educational settings as a teacher, lecturer, trainer, and program specialist. Dr. Susan Allen Namalefe wields extensive expertise in education leadership, higher education, policy and change, and human resources management. She is skilled in developing curriculum and lessons to reach a wide range of learners. Dr. Susan Namalefe Thorpe earned a Master of Education degree in leadership policy and change from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, a Master of Science degree in Management Studies specializing in human resource management from Uganda Management Institute, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. A teacher by profession, Dr. Susan Namalefe worked as an educator in different capacities in Eastern Africa for several years before joining the higher education program at UNT. She presently serves as a research assistant in the higher education program at UNT. Her research interests include the funding of higher education, entry policies in relation to access, affordability and the quality of higher education. Her passion is to ensure that children from poor socio-economic backgrounds access the kind of education they need to succeed as individuals and as a community.


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