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A Diaspora Success Story | How Dr. Samuel Muwanguzi Overcame Blindness to Attain Higher Academic Excellence

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Posted May 17, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Diaspora Dispatch ~ 3,182 views

     

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Dallas Dispatch — Attainment of an academic qualification, including a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) may be considered ordinary and a logically achievable milestone to progressively hardworking, determined, and smart individuals. However, attaining the same academic success by an individual with a physical disability, such as blindness, is, therefore, not only an exceptional accomplishment but also an extra ordinary milestone.

Such was the outstanding feat attained by Samuel Muwanguzi, the only Ugandan and blind graduand hooded among the 150 students who received their Doctorates of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees at the University of North Texas [UNT] Denton over the weekend. Samuel Muwanguzi, Ph.D. earned his Doctorate in Information sciences with a concentration in Information policy and management.

Grounded in the pragmatist tradition, Dr. Muwanguzi’s research examined “an evolving national information policy for the adoption of open source software, a new technology in Uganda.” Since Africa is emerging as the new global frontier for information and communication technology (ICT), Open Source Software (OSS/FS or simply FOSS), is becoming the ICT of choice in ubiquitous computing—freely available on the Internet–easily customizable, affordable, and inter operable enough to suit specific users’ needs.

Countries in Africa, including Uganda, are developing information policies to guide its use, development, and diffusion as an ICT strategy to cut costs and lock-in features associated with the expensive commercial (proprietary) software, such as developed by Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Samsung, and others. This cutting edge research offers timely information to resolve the dynamics and complexities associated with information policy processes that are holding Uganda behind Kenya and Rwanda in fast-tracking favorable market environments that would ensure fair competition between OSS and proprietary software in the country.

Dr. Muwanguzi was hooded by his dissertation chair, Dr. Bill Moen, the Associate Dean of research in the College of Information and Director of Texas Center for Digital Knowledge at UNT, during a colorful commencement ceremony presided over by the new UNT President Dr. Neal J. Smatresk and representatives from the Texas State government, and the UNT Board of Regency. In honor of his achievement, a thanksgiving service and grand reception and dance were held at St Vincent Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, on Saturday for the newly hooded Dr. Samuel Muwanguzi.

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Clad in his doctoral regalia, decorated and bedecked with two medals, three honor cords, and a bouquet of freshly cut flowers specially flown from Hawaii in recognition of his outstanding achievements in academic, leadership, and volunteer work, Dr. Muwanguzi received a standing ovation when he gracefully entered the fellowship hall at St. Cathedral for the thanksgiving service and reception. The well-attended event attracted a cross section of local guests from different African, Caucasian, and Hispanic communities resident in the Dallas-Fort worth [DFW] metropolitan area.

These were joined by a host of other Texans who traveled from across the state and others from as far as Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, New York and Washington States. The /Chief Celebrant at the thanksgiving service was Rev. John Kalimi of the African Fellowship Church at St. Vincent Cathedral, also an old boy of Ndejje Secondary School, where Dr. Muwanguzi attended and gained his high school certificate , a year behind Rev. John Kalimi.

The President of UNAA, Mr. Brian Kwesiga, observed that since “It takes a village to raise a child, it was fitting that the DFW community and others are celebrating what the community has collectively done to support Dr. Muwanguzi throughout his struggle to attain this remarkable milestone.” Uganda’s Honorary Consul to Dallas, Engineer David Mureeba, acknowledged that Samuels’s achievement was not only exemplary but that “Dr. Muwanguzi, you are truly a role model to all of us to look up to for positive lessons.

When Samuel began working on his Masters in 2003 and later on his doctoral program in 2007, he did not have a penny to his name. At the beginning of his Masters program in communication studies at UNT, he nearly dropped out of school after completing two semesters in default of $12,000 in short term and memorial loans from the school. But, citing scriptures from the Bible, Samuel stated: “There is a God in heaven, and, God’s grace is sufficient.”

Before the start of his third semester in graduate school, he won a scholarship from the Texas State Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and a national award from the National Federation of the Blind based in Virginia to fully pay the outstanding debt. “It was indeed a perfect and timely divine intervention by God that enabled me to proceed and register for the third semester,” he recalled. Adding, “That is why I am eternally grateful to the living God that I have always believed in and trusted to deliver me from seemingly impossible circumstances,” he told his attentive audience.

Referring to his personal blindness, Dr. Muwanguzi said: “Am not limited by my physical limitations. I accepted in good stride my loss of eyesight. I am proud of who and what I am. Blindness is not the end of life!” Sounding more like a “Charismatic Preacher” than a University Professor, his highly attentive an astonished audience captivated by his great words of wisdom and inspiration cheered, clapped, rocked, and encouraged the newly hooded Dr. Muwanguzi to speak on.

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Before the abrupt loss of his eyesight, Samuel worked in Uganda as a print and broadcast journalist from 1988 to 2000. He trained as a journalist in Germany, United Kingdom, South Africa, and the Netherlands. He served as the Chief News Editor for the former Radio Uganda and Uganda Television, now Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) from 1999-2000.

Samuel held the position of Chief News Editor for Radio Uganda from 1995-1999. He also worked as a News Editor for the Weekly Topic Newspaper between 1993-1994. He cut his teeth as a journalist at the Focus and the Mail newspapers as a reporter, sub-editor, and associated editor respectively before joining the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (Radio Uganda) as a News Editor in 1990.

He earned his Bachelors in Literature in English and German (1986) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (1991) from Makereere University Kampala, Uganda. Following the loss of his eyesight, Samuel retired from the Uganda civil service in 2001. He completed a-one-year Blindness Development Skills Course at the Criss Cole Center for the Blind in Austin, Texas (2003). Samuel attained a Master of Arts in Communication Studies at UNT (2005) and received an outstanding graduate thesis award in the same year.

He has worked as a teaching and research assistant in the College of Information since 2009 and in the department of communication studies from 2004-2008. He has published six peer-reviewed articles in international and national journals and presented papers at international and national conferences on communication, information sciences, media, and hyper media communication. He has won several scholarships and fellowships, including but not limited to the Floyd Qualls national fellowship, the Incight scholar award (2008-2012), and several honors at the UNT, such as the outstanding international graduate student of the year, (2010). Recently he has been appointed an Adjunct Professor to teach a course for information professionals of the 21st Century in the summer and fall of 2014.

Story By Rev. Joseph W. Kamugisha
Bedford, Texas
Email: yesu_nimurungi2004@yahoo.com
Tel: 817.50.6147


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

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