The desire to improve the lives of students at Victoria University inspired Mark Serebe, the new crowned Guild President, to take up a leadership role at the Ruparelia Group owned university.
In this Interview, Serebe narrates his life’s story, ambitions and all that he plans to do for the University.
Tell us about your background, your childhood, time through schools and what you want people to know about you as the reigning Guild President of Victoria University.
I can say that my parents have done a great job in as far as educating me is concerned as I have gone to some of the best institutions in the country like Kings College Budo where I did my O' level and from Buddo Secondary School where I did my A' level.
Two things that I say about myself is that am an easy guy and I can easily get along with anyone and I respect everyone irrespective of where they come from so I believe that I will be the same for the students of Victoria University
What attracted and inspired you to join students’ leadership here at Victoria University and in schools that you have attended?
From my personal experience at Victoria University, there were issues to do with communication between university management and the guild especially when it came to the area of internship and defending of research and dissertation especially for those that are at the final stages of their degree programme.
So I decided to stand to resolve these issues and make university life easy for the ones that plan to join us.
How do you intend to balance being a student and a Guild President of a vibrant and growing university?
I set my priorities straight and I am making sure that my activities for the week are fully planned to ensure that am not caught off guard and that at the end of the day I am able to work both effectively and fulfil my commitments as Guild President.
How do you plan to deploy the skills and knowledge you have acquired from this University to grow the institution and to the public benefit?
With the knowledge that I have acquired while studying my course (Human Resource Management), I plan to use it to create harmony with the team and promote real human relations.
This will enable us to go forward as a university. I will use my knowledge to explain to guild members their roles so that they can be effective in the execution of those roles.
What are some of your plans for the University as Guild President? What do you want your tenure to accomplish by the end of the mandate?
I plan to ensure that the academic affairs of students are greatly improved by making sure students get their results on time and that they receive information from their deans as quickly as possible.
I have greatly emphasized the lack of information flow at the University, therefore, students couldn't take action; so my method to solve this is to often organize meetings to address student issues.
These are some of the few things I plan to accomplish during my tenure along with ensuring the school cafeteria provides food to students that is affordable. Right now it is not yet available.
You mentioned in an earlier interview that you want to bridge the gap between the students and University management – please describe the current state of affairs and the solution you intend to offer.
Currently, students get to know important information about the guild and the university through WhatsApp. This system is not enough as some students are not on WhatsApp and others lose their phones during the semester.
They end up missing out on that information. I plan to combat this by getting student numbers so that alongside WhatsApp, we can send them SMS in case they cannot access the social media platform.
What are some of the pressing challenges that the student leadership and university management need to address?
I must say this right from the start that the university challenges are not too big to be solved but for me, the challenges are communication between the two bodies (University Council) and the guild body to ensure that the students are served and that they acquire the best education in the best way possible.
Do you feel any pressure to perform as a Guild President – from your peers, university management or from yourself?
Yes, I do get that pressure. Sometimes from my peers who expect me to know every single thing about the guild yet sometimes, I also get information late from the university management.
Management must maintain a good public image to ensure that Victoria University is seen as a prestigious university in Uganda.
What do you hate and love about leading your fellow students?
I like leading these students especially when it comes to important university information or calling people to attend conferences outside the university.
The current challenge is when it comes to parties. They don’t turn up as expected which is really disappointing considering the time you take to budget and prepare the venue for the event.
Why did you choose Victoria University Kampala of all universities in Uganda and the world?
At first, I didn’t really see much importance which university I went to but over time, the more I got engaged in student activities and lectures, the more I got to see the true value of understanding the concepts that we were being taught.
In Victoria University, the student numbers are small so lecturers can easily explain better the concepts putting us at the advantage when the time of employment comes into play. So as of now, I don't regret the decision my parents made for me to join Victoria University.
How best can you describe your stay here, at Victoria University, as a student?
I don't exactly have the right words to say because I have had good days when I enjoyed myself like on International Day and very bad days like when under bad circumstances I was almost given a retake yet it wasn't my fault but that of the people that were correcting our exam timetable.
But what I can say is that I hope by the time I pass on the torch of Guild President to the next person, the university will truly be on a different level from other universities.
Would you join Victoria University if you had another opportunity and task to choose which university to join?
I wouldn’t mind joining it again though there is another university that truly interests me; that is the International University of East Africa.
I like it for its diverse cultural identities - with people from DRC, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania all studying in one university.
Did Victoria University meet your expectation once you joined and became a student?
At first, I wasn't satisfied with the university but over time I came to appreciate all that it had to offer. So I can say my current stand is fair with room for improvement.
Would you recommend parents to bring their children to this University?
Yes. I would. I know one of the things that scare them is tuition but the university management has enhanced scholarships that smoothen the burdens that the parents have to bear for their children.
The scholarships enable students to proceed through the semester without any delay or mishaps unlike some of the other universities where students lose between 2 weeks to a month because of strikes from students and teachers.