For two and a half years, Sylvia Nalubega had to travel from Tororo to Kampala every Sunday evening and repeat the three-hour journey each Tuesday, back to Tororo where she works and lives with her family.
Commuting from Tororo to attend classes at the Aga Khan University (AKU) in Kampala has been a tough run, but Nalubega's efforts paid off when she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing on Saturday.
"It was not easy. My employers gave me two days off: Monday and Tuesday. I, therefore, had to come every Sunday evening and go back on Tuesday evening", she said.
In addition to the degree, she received the award of Academic Excellence after she emerged top among the students graduating from the BSC Nursing programme.
"She was not only the best performer in Uganda, but also the best of all graduating students in East Africa this year", said Firoz Rasul, president Aga Khan University, while presenting her with the award.
Sixteen graduands received the degree of BSC Nursing at AKU's ninth convocation ceremony held at the university premises in Old Kampala, Saturday. State minister for health, Richard Nduhura, who officiated at the event, noted the increasing brain drain from the region and said it could only be arrested "if we can meet the demand for intellectual and economic fulfillment". He stressed the need to limit the financial burden on students through bursaries and loan programmes.
Founded in 1983, Aga Khan University specialises in the health and education fields. The university currently has programmes in eight countries spread over three continents. In East Africa, it offers advanced nursing studies programmes in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, supported by the 250-bed Aga Khan University teaching hospital in Nairobi. Rasul said the university has established 30 medical outreach centres across East Africa, where students practise.
Nalubega dedicated her award to her family, particularly her husband, David Ogwang. "He is such an understanding man. I work the entire week and my children have had little time with me, but he has always been there for me", she said.
Ogwang called her a "heroine" for her commitment and endurance, saying few people would accomplish such a feat under her circumstances.
"I believe that wives are managers of the home. They should be given more time to study to make a positive influence on our children", Ogwang said. "To me, she is a heroine; a blessing to the family".