Throughout his life, Shakiib Wauyo ‘25 has been passionate about providing African solutions to African problems. A natural leader consistently recognized by his high school teachers in Jinja, Uganda for his skills in public speaking and community mobilizing, Wauyo was determined to one day transform his community for the better. So it came as a surprise to him that his educational journey would lead him not around the continent, but across the world.
“Coming to study in the United States was something I had never dreamed of,” Wauyo says. “I’m the first person in my family to go to college. Coming from that humble background, I didn’t think it would ever be possible.”
But it was made possible entirely through Wauyo’s hard work and initiative. An outstanding young student, Wauyo was awarded a scholarship to study at a Holy Cross high school in his home country of Uganda.
“It was there that I found educators who were willing to get the best out of me,” Wauyo says. “I found the Holy Cross values of integrity, hope, and honesty that inspired me to get involved in leadership opportunities.”
Upon graduation, Wauyo was awarded a Moreau Scholarship to continue his education at St. Edward’s University. After a 36-hour journey, he arrived on campus and immediately felt at home in a familiar environment of Holy Cross priests and brothers.
“The transition was easy because a lot of people wanted to take me around and make me feel welcome,” Wauyo says. “I would even receive random calls from school administration asking me how I’m doing and if I need anything. It was so sweet, and made me feel comfortable and relaxed.”
While some things did take getting used to (wearing shorts to class in the summer, for example), Wauyo quickly built community through his involvement in various campus activities. He became Internal Affairs Director for the Student Government Association, Staff Development Coordinator for the Office of Recreation and Wellness, and a Student Assistant to President Montserrat Fuentes.
As his leadership skills grew, he was eager to apply them back home. He spent the summer of his junior year back in Uganda as an Accounting Intern at Pure Grow Africa, an organization that promotes ethical agro-industrial practices.
“St. Edward’s played a crucial role in preparing me for success in that experience,” says Wauyo. “Returning home, I felt equipped to contribute meaningfully to addressing key issues in my community.”
That’s exactly what Wauyo came to St. Edward’s to accomplish: to find innovative solutions for his country’s challenges so he could return to Africa and lay a foundation for future generations. He’s currently developing a business pitch for a start-up called B'Afrika Trade, a mobile application that aims to digitally connect farmers back in Uganda directly with consumers. His pitch won first place at the 2022 Munday School of Business iChallenge on the Hilltop competition.
“I come from a community of farmers, and I want to combat the difficulties they encounter in selling their products,” Wauyo says. “With the prize money from the iChallenge competition, I was able to return to Uganda to refine the business plan through focus groups with farmers so I could ensure that farmers can actively use and benefit from the app.”
Wauyo has settled into a comfortable routine on campus. He has the same meal for dinner almost every evening (chicken tenders and fries from the dining hall), checks out the nearby Cabo Bob’s with his fellow students from all over Africa, and ends his days around midnight as he juggles his various responsibilities.
Still, he can’t wait to return home: not out of homesickness, but out of a desire to apply everything he’s learning on the Hilltop to his home community.
“Every time I meet people, I tell them how beautiful my country is,” Wauyo says. “We have challenges like any other continent, but I want people to know how rich our culture is and how full of life people are. As an African, I have a responsibility to create the Africa we need. Nobody is going to speak for Africa unless I do.”
By Samantha Mendoza