Seven thousand miles is a long way from home. That’s how far Beaufort County Community College student Emily Rukundo has traveled to study so that she can return to Uganda and do something positive for her own community.
“I want to go back home and do something for the kids there,” she says. “There are so many people who have so little.”
Rukundo is working toward an Associate in Applied Science in Human Services Technology, and is on track to graduate in May 2016. The program prepares students for work in a variety of institutions providing social, community and educational services.
“It’s really a diverse field,” says Human Services Technology Lead Instructor Ann Barnes. “Anywhere in life, from childhood through old age, there may be a human services program that’s tailored to provide you with guidance or assistance in some way, and all of those organizations need knowledgeable and well-trained employees.”
The coursework covers a range of topics from counseling and case management to psychology. There is an emphasis on relevant knowledge and skills, often honed during fieldwork as part of BCCC’s Work-Based Learning program.
“I love working with people,” says Rukundo. “I looked at the programs and felt that Human Services Technology would be the best fit for me.”
She came to the U.S. in April 2014 after meeting a local sponsor who had traveled to her country. This semester, she is working with the local Boys & Girls Club, tutoring students, encouraging physical activity and good nutrition habits, and helping with their studies.
“The work-study program gives our students an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom,” says Barnes. “It’s a great benefit for the organization as well, since they get needed help, and in some cases it’s such a good fit that the student might get hired after graduation.”
Rukundo says the distance from home and the cultural differences have been challenging at times, but she is enjoying her time in the U.S. and her studies.
“There is a seven-hour time difference from my family and friends,” she says, “so that has been a bit hard. But it has been great to gain this exposure and experience.”
When she returns home, she hopes to use what she has learned to help provide education and teach job skills to disadvantaged children. She says helping kids attend school and learn marketable skills can make a positive difference in their lives.For more information about BCCC’s Human Services Technology program, contact Barnes at 252-940-6361 or Ann.Barnes@BeaufortCCC.edu. For more information about the Work-Based Learning program, contact Coordinator Gregg Allinson at 252-940-6428 or Gregg.Allinson@BeaufortCCC.edu.