By Prudence Minayo
Kenyan track legend Eliud Kipchoge mantra ‘No Human is Limited’ rings true for one Benedict Ocaka. He recently earned his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Community Development from Bishop Stuart University. He graduated with first class honors and a GPA of 4.42, becoming the second student since the university’s formation to achieve such a feat in the Agriculture and Community Development department.
The journey has not been an easy one. The 25-year-old has struggled all through school and pushed on even when others would have given up.
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Here is the story of Benedict Ocaka as told by WoK.
Background and Education
Benedict is a third born in a family of eight children in Uganda. His parents could barely make ends meet let alone afford to take all 8 children through all the levels of education. To put food on the table, his father worked at a now defunct company as a cleaner while his mother brewed and sold local liquor. Despite his family’s dire situation, the ambitious young man desired to complete his A levels.
To have some money, they began laying bricks in their village. This idea was sparked by his elder brother, Geoffrey Komakech, a high school graduate. The brothers managed to lay 12,000 bricks and Ocaka made Ush3,000. He paid part of his school fees using the money.
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After classes would come to an end, he would sell roasted meat on the road sides. On school holidays, he also burned and sold charcoal at Ush2500 to Ush2800 per sack. As the high school workload intensified, he couldn’t do side hustles like before. Thankfully, the amiable headmaster let him study until term three without clearing fees. He was forced to obtain school materials from friends and at one point was stopped from doing an exam for about twenty minutes because of his accumulated fees arrears. The only way he could afford to sit the national exam was because the government paid it for them.
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“I no longer had income but I studied up to term three without paying fees because the head teacher sympathised with me. I only registered for exams because government had paid for us,” he recounted.
“I used to borrow some of the requirements from friends. But for final exams, I was barred for 20 minutes from sitting for exams by the school administration until a senior invigilator intervened and I was cleared,” he told the Daily Monitor.
The long turbulent high school education ended after he got 9 points in the A-level exams. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go to university.
Schools he Attended
The bright Benedict, who was born in Ayuulupur Village, Lamwo District attended Kitgum Prison Nursery and Primary school before joining Kitgum Comprehensive College for his O-Level where he attained a mean score of 37 points.
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Having successfully completed his A-levels, he decided to join Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF). Here, a liver problem prevented him from being assimilated into the force.
He heeded someone’s suggestion to join Securex Security Company in Kampala, Uganda. He prepared his academic papers and underwent training in 2017. Afterwards, he was employed and managed to find modest living quarters in Mbarara city. His monthly salary was Sh4700 and according to a Ugandan publication, he was able to save KSh41,000. He applied for a regular degree course in Agriculture and Community Development at Bishop Stuart University (BSU).
“I met a man from Securex Security Company at Centenary Bank Kitgum who told me to prepare my documents for recruitment but I could not afford fare to Kampala. He suggested that I find two more recruits and he pay our fare. I obliged. We trained in January 2017,” he told the daily.
He also secured a student loan , quit the job and went into fulltime academics. The end results were academic excellence as he got First Class Honors.
For him, this is just the beginning as the next step is a Masters degree. His ambition is to become one of the best scientists, academicians and researchers from Uganda.
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