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Virtual Graduation Ceremony for Class of 2021

Michael Ugwueke. Courtesy photo.
Michael Ugwueke. Courtesy photo.
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The first group of Africa University students to experience an entire academic year of online only learning will graduate on July 3, 2021. Close to 600 young people from 17 African countries are members of the Class of 2021. An address from Guest of Honor and Commencement Speaker, Dr. Michael Ugwueke, will cap off their unusual final year.

Your support of the Africa University Fund apportionment supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure.

Recognized as one of the top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare in the USA, Ugwueke is the president and chief executive officer of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, based in Memphis, Tennessee. Ugwueke emigrated to the United States from Nigeria at age 21, with the dream of becoming a doctor. He now leads  the second largest private employer in Memphis—with five hospitals, 13,000 employees and more than $1B in assets. Africa University’s class of 2021 will find much that resonates and is inspiring in the story of Ugwueke’s journey to the top job at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

Barde Danjuma, a Nigerian training for pastoral ministry with children/youth and member of the class of 2021, has earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He is the outgoing vice president of the Student Union. Over the past nine months, Danjuma and his colleagues in student leadership had to effectively serve and encourage the student body of more than 3,000 dispersed over 28 countries using online platforms and social media channels.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic, we have faced so many challenges…in this semester alone seven students have lost their parents,” said Danjuma. “It is really a heartbreaking situation.”

As they prepare for the end of the academic year, Danjuma and other campus-based students in the graduating class are looking forward to returning home to family. For some, it has been two years and others as many as four years since they last saw their families.

Pandemic-related border closures and lockdowns forced hundreds of international students to remain on Africa University’s main campus. But even before Covid-19 brought in-person teaching and learning to a halt in March 2020, some students lacked the financial resources to travel back and forth between the campus and their home countries.

Still, these students say the experience has made them resilient, grown their faith, and caused them to be even more grateful for their education and for each other.

“We have been a family and although we are from different nations, we adopted each other and lived together in harmony,” said Danjuma. “Africa University has shown me how to be patient working alongside people from different backgrounds. That’s all part of the legacy of this final year.”

Andra M. Stevens, Director, Communications, Africa University Development Office

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Africa University Fund transforms Africa by educating and empowering students from across the continent through Africa University, the first fully accredited, United Methodist-related educational institution on the continent. The Africa University Fund supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Africa University Fund at 100 percent.