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Graduate credits training, alumni network, for success

2/25/2004 News media contact: Linda Green · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn

The following article may be used as a sidebar to UMNS #073. Photographs are available at http://umns.umc.org.

A UMNS Report By Andra Stevens*

Working at his desk in an office complex in Harare, Zimbabwe, Edwin Ngonyamo looks like a typical manager. Get him talking poultry and it's a different story altogether. He loves his work and credits Africa University with making him good at it.

"The secret of my success is my background," he says. "I work with Africans, and I'm able to understand, fit in and thrive across this continent because of my experiences at the university."

Ngonyamo enrolled in Africa University's pioneer class in 1992. His love for animal science began with exposure to lecturers such as Fanuel Tagwira, Athanasius Mphuru and the late Ben Manyuchi, whom he claims as mentors. After graduating in 1994 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture, he worked on a project marketing small-scale poultry production to rural people. He found his niche, he says.

Today, Ngonyamo is a technical services manager at Irvine's, a company that markets products and services to poultry and egg producers. He's responsible for finding and nurturing new business in east, west and central Africa.

"I'm working in Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola. … Everywhere I go, I call on classmates and a growing network of Africa University alumni," he says. "They help me with market information, contacts, and some are actually potential customers and partners."

As he seeks out new business, Ngonyamo also looks for opportunities for his alma mater. He's already put in place a graduation prize for the top performer in animal science. Irvine's takes students as interns and recruits actively on campus, and now Ngonyamo is pitching a partnership between Irvine's and Africa University to train middle managers for the enterprises he's helping set up in various countries.

The skills gap is apparent, he says, and there's great recruitment potential for Africa University.

*Stevens is a communications consultant and former director of information at Africa University. This article was adapted from a story that appeared in Africa University Today, a newsletter jointly produced by the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry and United Methodist Communications.

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