The Online Division would like to share Ronald Walusimbi’s story with you. Ronald is an online student at the Minnesota School of Business studying Business Administration. In Ronald’s own words he shares about his past challenges, outlook for the future, and how education is helping him every day. His story is uplifting, motivating, and a testament to giving back to the community.
I moved to the US at the end of 2004 with my fiancé, now wife, who was born and raised in the US. She lived in Uganda with her parents. They did charity work in my country. As a young boy, her father was one of the people that I admired and always thought when I grew up; I wanted to be like him.
Like many in Africa, my story is not so different; although I must say that I am very lucky, scratch that, BLESSED to have both my parents alive. We were poor but did not know it because everyone was like us. I cut grass with my brothers on the weekends with a slasher, which is a long machete, to fill our beds so they stayed soft. We went to the garden with our parents, carried water from a stream and grew our own food, and all this was fun.
The only time that I felt poor was when I could not go to school because my father could not afford to pay my tuition. I always thought to myself that when I grow up, I would work hard to make sure that I can take care of as many kids as possible.
I was fortunate to get a job with a great company working in the warehouse as a Distribution Associate. While I was working, I was fascinated with how and who would lead a company like this. Coming from a place where there are no mentors, I did not know that asking questions was a good thing. I also struggled with asking questions in class and I tried to avoid it because I did not want to look stupid. I realized that this was going to hold me back. So, I wrote an email to the CEO of the company, asking him a few simple questions of how can I achieve enough so that I can be in position to change the way things are done back home [Africa]. I want to teach people that they can have a better life.
The CEO made an appointment for me to meet with the President of Human Resources, who advised me to go to school. I hated the idea because it was not going to fix the immediate problem, yet I understood that the problem had no quick fixes. When I went back to my desk that day, I searched for business schools online and one of those was Minnesota School of Business. I loved the school right away! The reviews were good and I also thought it was the only school that would allow me to attend class online while I worked full-time to support my family back home and here.
The response from the school was immediate and before I knew it I was in class beginning a journey to acquire a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.
My biggest challenge was trying to understand the American culture, the way of communicating, the English language, and school system and expectations, all of which were so strange to me.
My questions to the instructors were anywhere from “Can you please ask me the same question in another way?” Or, “Can you please give me the definition of this word?” I tried to make sure I understood very well what was required. All of my instructors have been amazing in all of my classes and I could not have chosen a better school.
My wife and I will be moving back to Uganda on March 9th 2012, to work as Field Directors of the organization that her parents began. Although I have not graduated yet, I have acquired enough knowledge to use as we go back to work with the local community.
One of our goals is to introduce people to new methods that will help them work smarter instead of harder. In addition to working as Field Directors, we are going to start a 15000 chicken farm for eggs and meat. This concept came alive when in one of my classes we were asked to create a business plan.
I thought to use this as an opportunity to work with my teachers to help me “fine-tune” what we will be doing in the future. My father, an accountant by profession, raised 500 chickens. This income he used to supplement his $110 monthly salary. This concept that worked for my family is the inspiration for us to reach out to thousands of people in Africa.
While here, I have been able to work with agricultural personnel in Uganda to learn more about chicken farming on a large scale. These farms will allow us to have the income we need to continue with our orphan and school program in East Africa, finish the construction of the first school (which is half-way done), while using the farm as a community outreach tool.
I will be teaching free business classes that I am developing, using the farm as a model. I will continue to work with the people that excel in our programs to start small businesses through a micro loan program that will be funded by the surplus from the farms in the individual communities.
My biggest challenge will be transitioning as we move back to Africa, I am used to the conveniences we have here, and how easy it is to drive and pick up pens, a book at the library, electricity everyday, search Google for an answer to a home improvement project. With all that, I will be working as hard as I can to try and graduate at the end of next year; I have been asking questions like “Can I receive my books in Africa?”
In December, we are sending a 40 foot shipping container to Uganda with school supplies, clothes, shoes, lawn care equipment, furniture, hopefully a much needed 4WD truck and cooking supplies. We are currently raising funds for the chicken farm project and the shipping container. We are also holding our first African dinner event in Kenosha Wisconsin on November 12th, an effort to raise funds for these programs.
Attending Minnesota School of Business has equipped me with such a broad knowledge that I cannot wait to bring back home to Africa and put to work. I am confident today more than when I started about the specific things we are going to implement. Five years from now, I hope to see the organization move towards self-sustenance that will be as a result of working with the local people to unlock their hidden potential, something my school has given me. That is what I take back home. Please come and visit us in Uganda in the future.
Minnesota School of Business is my new family.