Ugandan Men Earn Master's Degrees From ECU

Saturday, December 15th 2012, 7:17 pm
By: News 9

ADA, Oklahoma -- Two men News 9 has been following since they started an amazing journey from Uganda received their Masters' degrees from East Central University Saturday morning.

During a 2010 "Pros for Africa" trip, these two men really stood out and were given an opportunity they say they never dreamed of.

ECU administrators say Richard Kirabira and Charles Mugabi have shown great character and integrity, despite what they had to endure back home in Uganda. They began their life-changing adventure in 2010 and neither of them never imagined they would get this far.  

An act of generosity came full circle as they walked across the stage.

"This is beyond what I expected. This is far beyond my dreams," said Charles Mugabi, after receiving his degree.

"I never thought I would come to the United States. And when he offered me a scholarship, I thought it was a joke," Richard Kirabira said.

It's a success story that began nearly three years ago, when East Central University's president John Hargrave traveled to Gulu, Uganda with "Pro's For Africa," an organization based in Oklahoma City that aids disadvantaged African children.

But, when Hargrave landed, his luggage didn't land with him, and he says he would have been without anything for days.

"Two days later, these two young men arrived. I've never met them before in my life. They arrived with my luggage," said ECU Pres. John Hargrave. "I tried to pay them. They would accept no money. I tried to give them gasoline money, they said 'No, you are the guest of Uganda.'"  

Richard and Charles waited three days at the airport for Hargrave's lost luggage, and once it arrived, they drove it five hours through a civil war-torn area to deliver it.

"So I said, 'How would you like a college education in the United States of America?' And here they are, graduating," Hargrave said.

"We want to take our talents. We want to take all that we have learned from here and go back to Uganda and transform the nation," Mugabi said.

"My village, my community, my country is celebrating with me," said Kirabira. "It's beyond me as an individual. It's more for the community of where I come from."  

They believe if they would have taken the money, they probably would have never had the opportunity to broaden their education for a life time.

Richard received his Master's in Accounting, Charles in Human Resources.