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A PhD at 30 opened up choices

By Agnes E. Nantaba

Mary Goretti Nakabugo (PhD) is the Twaweza Lead and Manager-Uwezo an initiative that aims to improve competencies in literacy and numeracy in East Africa. She spoke to Agnes E Nantaba

Any three things we don’t know about you?

I am a single mother of many children .

My major work experience has been in the higher education sector, working as Senior Lecturer of Higher Education Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa since August 2011. Prior to that, I worked as Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Media, Makerere University, Uganda.

I strongly believe in the interdependence of the different levels of education.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

It’s the ability to make a choice because it creates contentment and happiness.


What is your greatest fear?

That moment when my father will be no more. He is ageing but I feel I should have him more than ever before.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I tend to trust people too much.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Lazy people; sometimes I entrust responsibility with some people who only end up with excuses.

Which living person do you most admire?

The people I look up to are those who have achieved a lot yet they remain humble. Prof. Livingstone Luboobi, the former Vice Chancellor of Makerere University for his passion towards work. The other person is Dr. Nakanyike Musisi who is now a lecturer at the University of Toronto.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I think I am a bad shopper because at times I end up shopping too many things especially clothes and shoes that I may not even put on.

What is your current state of mind?

At this time of the year, we are working hard to submit reports. That has tensed me up.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Many times we tend to overrate what the rich people have even when we may know some of their sources of income are not straight forward.

On what occasion do you lie?

Unless the lie is to save somebody’s life but I really try to be truthful.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

While growing up, being the tallest amongst my siblings used to torture me. But when I got exposed, I realised that being tall is actually praised.

Which living person do you most despise?

Not any specific person but all the greedy people.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

A real man should be truthful and honest.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

It should be the same; truthfulness and honesty.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My father takes it all.

When and where were you happiest?

A couple of moments not one; I was happy graduating with my first degree in January 1996. I was also happy graduating with more degrees because it meant being in position to make a choice.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I was an active singer in church. It is something that I feel I should carry on later.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Nothing because I am contented with everything on me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Apart from the academic qualifications like graduating with a PhD at 30 years, it is an achievement making use of what I studied to impact on my community.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I love myself so much to the extent that I wouldn’t mind coming back the same person.

Where would you most like to live?

Uganda and specifically my home in Wakiso district; I have worked and lived in other countries, but my country remains the best because I am always a priority.

What is your most treasured possession?

My life; it’s the first thing that I request God for in my daily prayers.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

When one gets to a level where he or she has no choice.

What is your favorite occupation?

At the moment, I am contented with working in the field of education.

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty and genuineness.

Who are your favourite writers?

I normally read education books and biographies of influential people in society like Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

In terms of values, Mahatma Gandhi for his simplicity and humility; Nelson Mandela also had a choice to be arrogant but he remained humble and down-to-earth.

Who are your heroes in real life?

No one else apart from my father.

What is your greatest regret?

I haven’t had any regrets in life.

How would you like to die?

I wish I can die peacefully in my sleep; I don’t want to become a burden to anyone or even to myself.

What is your motto?

Everything is possible.

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