CHADRON – Jeff Mugongo of Denver, Colorado, has been named the Project Strive/TRiO November Student of the Month.
When hearing the news, Mugongo reacted with gratitude.
Mugongo said he, his mother and his siblings came to the U.S. almost seven years ago as refugees from Rwanda, Africa.
Mugongo said he never went to school in Africa and didn’t speak English, but he knew there was hope for the future.
“I knew I wanted a better future,” Mugongo said. “I started experiencing life.”
Mugongo, a sophomore, said he initially chose to pursue a degree that would allow him to become a personal trainer, but decided he wanted to help others in a different way.
“I asked for the majors of the people who help the refugees in certain countries, like what I went through. Social Work was suggested. I fell in love with it,” Mugongo said.
Because of his personal experiences, Mugongo said the topics discussed in his Social Work classes are easy to discuss.
Rich Kenney, Social Work associate professor and program director at CSC, said he knew Mugongo had heart the first time he heard him speak at a Social Work Club meeting.
“He talked about wanting to be able to give something back to society, to help others who have struggled in life. Having lived in Rwanda as a child, and knowing firsthand about hunger and poverty, he occasionally talks in class about some of the difficulties he has experienced. He told me once that it is a miracle that he is here at CSC. I, for one, am glad that he is,” Kenney said.
Mugongo said he is grateful to attend CSC and for the benefits of the school’s smaller size.
“The school’s size keeps me really focused and helps me save up my money,” Mugongo said. “I chose the right place to be successful in my life and education.”
Mugongo said he learned about Project Strive/TRiO during one of his first visits to campus, and the program was one of the reasons he chose CSC.
“I wanted to find something that was going to help me,” Mugongo said. “I want to be successful so badly.”
Jen Schaer, director of Project Strive/TRiO, said Mugongo is a welcome addition to the program.
“He is very personable and a great addition to the Strive program,” Schaer said. “He is passionate about his future and that will make him a great social worker.”
Mugongo said his favorite parts of Project Strive/TRiO are the different activities and the field trips.
When not working at the NPAC or Chadron Area Aquatic and Wellness Center, Mugongo said he loves to work out. His other interests include modeling, playing soccer, hiking and snowboarding.
As far as his future, Mugongo said he wants to make his mom proud and give back to her by buying her a house.
Mugongo said he would like to see his career start with working in child welfare with foster children. From there, he would like to eventually work for the United Nations High Commissions for Refugees, working to help refugees in need around the world.
“I want to make the world a better place,” Mugongo said.
—Kelsey R. Brummels, College Relations