Meet The First Ugandan-American PhD Female Environmental Scientist In Dallas – Dr. Sala Senkayi

Posted May 18, 2012 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 11,548 views


Reported By: Rev. Joseph William Kamugisha, Ronnie Mayanja  and the UNAA Times News Team Hurst, TX. Email: Tel: 817.500.6147

Every parent’s dream is to see their kids grow up and graduate from college. But rarely do you ever meet a five degree holder, topped off with a Doctorate degree [Ph.D.] And, this past weekend, the Dallas Fort Worth, Ugandan community, not only embraced one but also proudly welcomed in their community history books their first and youngest female [Ph.D.] holder in the names of Dr. Sala Nanyanzi Senkayi, [Ph.D.]

It has been a long time coming for the young lady, the daughter of Dr. Abu Senkayi, [Ph.D.] and Sunajeh Senkayi, having began her humble journey at Texas A&M University, with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree. She later picked up three other degrees (two B.Sc degrees and one M.Sc degree) from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), topping it off with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Science from the same University of Texas at Arlington with her dissertation title; “Proximity to Airport and Cancer Incidences in Texas”

Indeed, “It takes a village to raise a child….” That is what many friends and well wishers of the Senkayi family observed and confirmed during the graduation party held a day before the commencement ceremony of this accomplished young lady. The proud parents could be seen beaming with excitement as speaker after speaker, spoke about their daughter’s achievement. The Mcee of the day Mr. Frank Sentamu, also added excitement to the evening when he rightly noted that the time had now come for the two Doctors to change their names to Dr. Senkayi Senior and Dr. Senkayi Junior as a way of separating their titles.

Perhaps the journey that first inspired the young Sala, could be traced back in the early days of her childhood when according to her father, on the day he was awarded his Doctorate degree, Sala ran and grabbed her Dad’s hat on the stage, putting it on her own head, as if to suggest that one day she would wear her own. Several years passed but Dr. Abu Senkayi did not imagine ever having the pleasure of participating in the hooding process of his only daughter Sala, upon completion of her Ph.D. studies.

The hooding process is normally reserved for the graduate’s major professor, but in one of those rare occasions when a parent of the student is a Doctorate degree holder, the pleasure and opportunity of carrying out this exercise is often passed on to the parent, which in this case was Dr. Abu Senkayi [Ph.D.] a fellow Environmental Scientist himself. But Sala owes her success to the inspiration and support of her parents together with her brother Ali Senkayi, himself an electrical engineer who have been her great role models through the years. She is also quick to mention the collective effort of many other community friends and relatives who encouraged her along her academic journey.

Dr. Abu Senkayi, an official Buganda Kingdom representative in North America, also mentioned that Sala was involved in planning for the royal’s cultural visits to Dallas. Sala played a prominent role in 2001 during HRM the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronard M. Mutebi’s, visit to Dallas. Sala, as young as she was, found time to play her role in the community preparations for this historic royal visit. The same was the case when HRH the Nnabagereka of Buganda, Sylvia Nnaginda, visited DFW, in 2005. Sala, equally took time off her busy schedules to serve the community in the preparations of Nnabagereka’s successful visit.

Dr. Sala N. Senkayi, is also an active community organizer who spends time going to schools and colleges to talk about Environmental protection. Besides her commitment to the community, Sala, maintains a full time job in the same office block and department with her father, Dr. Senkayi [Senior] at the Federal EPA [Environmental Protection Agency. Her EPA mentor proudly noted, during the evening graduation dinner, that Sala is “a very dedicated girl, who takes her job very seriously and devotes a lot of time into everything she does.”

Before Sala joined her Dad as a fellow Federal employee at the EPA, her Dad remembers bringing her to the office on special days when employees are allowed to bring their children to the office. Perhaps Sala’s visits to the EPA office must have given her some early inspiration to follow in her Dad’s footsteps.  But from Sala’s perspective when asked why she chose to follow her Dad’s career path as an Environmental Scientist she says; “I’m not trying to follow my Dad’s footsteps per se, because I like Biology and my Dad is a Soil Scientist. But I also like my Dad because he is a cool guy!” Most importantly, she enjoys what she does in the field of environmental protection.

Sala, also enjoyed tremendous support from her professor who helped shape her destiny by giving her good advice and counsel. Sala’s, biggest ambition is to help people, playing her part in the preservation and protection of the degenerating environment. “Getting a degree is just part of the story” Dr. Sala, says. Adding that “making friends, helping each other, as Ugandan community members to advance each other, is what will help us succeed here in the Diaspora.”

One might ask what’s next for Sala, after five degrees and a Ph.D, in hand. “I hope to continue working at the EPA, going into teaching, is an option, working with kids and teaching them about the environment is what I have been doing and will continue to do whenever opportunities arise” Says Dr. Sala Senkayi. Sala summarises her journey in a few words, “I can now say that am free at last, I have all the time I need to live and enjoy my life…” remarked the single, young Dr. Sala Senkayi, Ph.D., during her brief speech at the graduation dinner in her honor.

no images were found

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.



    May ALLAH bless you so that your children follow the same path

    mulindwa Daniel

    It’s very impressing, indeed one doesn’t require lots of stuffs to get over the academia struggle.
    I strongly believe our country Uganda is well represented and we equally need your advanced brains back home…for the betterment of our motherland.

    Mahjouba Taylor

    Masha Allah! May Allah SWT Bless you and guide you to the best always sister Sala

You must be logged in to post a comment.