My name is Obey Justice Chiguta, and I am an Andrew Young International Scholar under Higherlife Foundation. This year marks an unprecedented milestone in my life and that of my own family as I am the first to graduate from college and to obtain two degrees.
My journey started five years ago when I was selected as one of the recipients of the Ambassador Andrew Young Scholarship – a scholarship awarded to outstanding African students, and that is founded and funded by Higherlife Foundation through a partnership with Morehouse and Spelman Colleges of America.
I enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where I majored in the Dual Degree Engineering Program- a five-year program in pure science and engineering. I took Applied Physics for the first three years (Fall 2014 to Spring 2017) at Morehouse then transitioned to engineering school at the University of Michigan College of Engineering (Fall 2017 to Winter 2019). I majored in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan because I wanted an engineering degree, and I was also interested in business.
During my studies, I got the fantastic opportunity to intern at great companies such as Moody’s Analytics, Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte. I also had opportunities to travel around the United States and the world. I managed to visit Senegal, Rwanda, England, and Scotland during my academic career. Through these opportunities, I was exposed to life-changing opportunities and individuals who have inspired me tremendously.
My greatest lesson throughout this journey was to be open-minded. The American system was very flexible and enabled me to explore a myriad of options. Initially, I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer just because and it sounded good and I was already good in Mathematics and Physics, but I went the other way, and I am glad I did.
The journey wasn’t all rosy as most people might imagine for someone abroad. During my studies, I lost my mother while I was in the United States – this was a blow to my confidence and my mental health. At that moment, everything tumbled like a deck of cards, but I thank God for friends and family for encouraging me.
Along my journey, I met many setbacks, such as the effects of the economic situation in Zimbabwe, which affected my tuition payments. At Michigan, I stayed off campus and worked at most 20 hours a week in addition to taking on average 18 credit hours of engineering courses. All this teaches you character as nothing is spoon fed to you.
Nevertheless, I am excited and relieved that this journey is finally over. On May 4, 2019, the Regents of the University of Michigan conferred upon me a BSE in Industrial and Operations Engineering. On May 19, I will also graduate from Morehouse College with an Applied Physics degree. Soon after, I will start a full-time position at Deloitte Consulting, as an Associate in Technology in the firm’s Atlanta office. I am forever grateful for this opportunity from Dr Strive and Dr Tsitsi Masiyiwa. I am indebted to Higherlife Foundation.I dedicate these two degrees to you all. Thank you very much indeed and may the Lord reward you for your contributions.