Written by Molly MacCready, CROSO’s Executive Director
(Photo above is from 2013 of CROSO Scholar Norah with CROSO representatives Beth and Molly)
Tomorrow, CROSO Scholar Nakyeyune Norah will graduate from Kampala University! I am so excited for her and couldn’t be more proud to have supported her in her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. With the hopes that you’ll share in Norah’s joy of her graduation from university, I’d like to share some of my thoughts about Norah with you.
(For those of you who would prefer a video, just skip down to the bottom and watch!)
- Some of you may remember at our Annual Benefit in 2013 (the year that Norah was selected) that we shared a video of several Scholars discussing their plans for the future. Norah stood out as she passionately described her lifelong desire to become…wait for it… an accountant! While many in the room giggled at her enthusiasm for this career, Norah could not have been more serious. Norah loves math and enjoyed her entrepreneurship classes in high school. As she moved forward with her university courses, that love only grew. This week, Norah will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in accounting.
- Norah is a “footballer” as she would say (American soccer player to those of us in the U.S.) and is so proud of that title! When I visited Uganda for the first time in 2006, I remember people laughing when I told them that I had played football for most of my life. Girls playing strenuous competitive sports was just not part of their culture. Seven years later, when I met Norah for the first time, I loved hearing her boast of her football successes and how it has helped make her feel like she belongs. Norah went on to play on her university’s women’s football team and found that it was a great way for her to make friends in a new environment. She also played on a local non-university affiliated team, so will continue to have football in her life even after she graduates this week.
- In addition to her physical strength, Norah has incredible emotional strength. Norah is the youngest child in her family, but will be the first to graduate from a university. Norah has overcome challenge after challenge in her life, but in talking to her, I have always been struck by her gratitude and the incredible perspective she maintains. In the video clip below, you’ll hear her talk about how lucky she was to only live on the streets for 3-4 months. Norah’s tenacity will continue to serve her well as she seeks employment and continues to navigate her career path.
Norah is an incredible young woman– articulate, thoughtful, focused and hard working. She has thrived at Kampala University, participating in sports, excelling in academics, volunteering at several different community organizations and completing internships in local finance offices. One aspect of the CROSO scholarship that I continue to be amazed by is how it allows for our Scholars to finally find that equal playing field with their peers. If you meet Norah, you too would be impressed by her and would not be able to tell that she ever had to live on the streets. In fact, that reminds me of something Norah said during my most recent visit to Uganda last June. Norah told me that some of her classmates thought she came from a wealthy background because her school fees were always paid on time and she never had to miss a semester. CROSO is grateful to have been able to provide that consistency to Norah’s academic experience and we can’t wait to see what she will do next!
If you have the time, please take a couple minutes and watch this unedited video from 2013. Norah shares her own story of what caused her to live on the streets and what amazing support she received from different organizations like World Vision and our partner organization, C.R.O. I love hearing her describe the love she received from the staff and other children at C.R.O.! She ends by talking about her next steps. Only days before this video was taken, she had learned that she’d been selected for the CROSO scholarship. You’ll pick up on some hints of disbelief still, but you’ll also see how very hopeful she was as she looked ahead to the possibility of university.