Erison Tumusime, 25, was born and grew up in the eastern part of Uganda where his grandparents and parents fled to in the 1950s due to the onslaught against the Tutsis in Rwanda. In January 2019, Tumusime made a decision to trace back his roots, made the journey back to Kigali, and joined his relatives who had stayed behind.
“I made a decision to come back to Rwanda because I wanted to trace my roots and to tap into the opportunities that have now become available in Rwanda in recent years. I wanted to also inspire the rest of my family to decide to come back to Rwanda,” he said. “My parents have expressed a willingness to return once I can set up a base and a home in Rwanda.”
When he came back an opportunity to train as a pilot with the national airline emerged but due to the Covid 19 hit, the opportunity disappeared, forcing Tumusime to look for odd jobs to earn a living.
At that time, he made another key decision to pursue further education but he had no funds to pay for tuition.
Scrolling through the Twitter social media platform, he came across a post by Kepler calling for applications and he immediately decided to try his luck to return to school.
He took his time to submit a strong application, and was selected to take a test which he passed. Then he was called in for oral interviews which he also passed. In March 2021, Tumusime enrolled into Kepler, and began the foundational program which equips students to cope with the school’s unique academic program. The foundational program which lasts for six months enabled him to attain basic computer skills, critical thinking and professional competency skills among others.
“After two months in the program, I was chosen to become a representative of the cohort. I suddenly found myself in student leadership,” he said. In November 2021, he was elected as the Student Guild President, a position which he currently holds with other elected student representatives.
“We are responsible for voicing students’ needs and requests to the administration. We help act as a bridge between students and the school’s leadership. We organize events, town hall meetings and collaborate with different stakeholders around the university,” he said.
“I have had miraculous turnarounds in my life. The most important lesson that I have learned is about seizing opportunities when they show up in my way. It’s really about taking action, and not just waiting for things to happen while my hands are folded.” He said.
He said that everything that has happened to him at Kepler has set him up for bigger things to come in his career and life.
“Through being a student leader, I have learned teamwork and communication skills. I have managed to know a lot of people in and outside Kepler. The experience has literally expanded my network,” he said.
He added that the teaching mode at Kepler has been key in sharpening his vision because it encourages great interaction between students and teachers.
“Many of the new students are shy and timid when they come to the school. However, they end up getting out of their shells because of the learning environment at Kepler,” he said. “You learn to express yourself in front of people and get to become comfortable in your own skin. The foundational program helps in transforming the way of thinking and behavior of students.”
He said that time keeping is a big skill that Kepler has managed to impart in new students.
“At Kepler, the policy is five minutes before, if you arrive later than five minutes before class or an appointment then you are considered late and there are sanctions to that. If it happens without you having communicated you can either get sanctioned or you may fail a module,” he said, “ For most students, the five minutes before policy has literally become like second nature.”
This policy at Kepler has enabled Tumusime to appreciate the value of time.
“Time is a big resource that we never tap into especially as Africans. We don’t keep time. We move along with time without realizing that it’s a resource. There is a culture of not keeping time, and we never realize how special time is.”
It was never like this for Tumusime before and he credits Kepler for instilling the important value of keeping time in his psyche.
“For me, the clock is always ticking. The clock will always tick and every second that goes by could be a missed opportunity. We have to look at how to make every second count,” he said. “In the past I used to sleep and wake up around 10 am in the morning just because there was nothing much to do. When I started respecting time due to my experience at Kepler, I began waking up at six and have now come to appreciate that there is a huge time lag between six and ten o’clock which I can use to do a lot of things.”