Forging a New Life

Portrait of MugishaFidele Mugisha ’21, could have an entirely different story. As a young boy, he experienced the worst of humanity: the slaughter of his people, hopelessness, sadness and fear that can change a person’s heart.

The ongoing civil war against his tribe, the Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) meant his family was always on the run. When Mugisha was just 9, he and his parents and younger siblings lived near the Gatumba Refugee Camp near Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, with their people.

The Forces for National Liberation massacred more than 166 civilian Banyamulenge and wounded another 106 at the camp on Aug. 13, 2004. The trauma for Mugisha was profound but he dared to dream of a different life.

In 2015, Mugisha and his family arrived in Durham, North Carolina. During their first month, as the oldest of nine children, he went to work to help support his family, vacuuming cars at a car wash and mowing a golf course.

Through the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP) for high-achieving community-college students, Mugisha was able to graduate from Durham Technical Community College before moving to Carolina for his next step in higher education.

He earned the Carolina Covenant, which covered his full financial needs through grants, scholarships and work-study, and he successfully enrolled in UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Mugisha is now an ISG investment pricing analyst with Lenovo in Morrisville, North Carolina.

Never forgetting his past, Mugisha performs community service by mentoring and tutoring young refugees. Faith – in God and God-given gifts – is what has taken Mugisha from that tragic day at the refugee camp to UNC Kenan-Flagler alumnus.

“I’ve learned honestly to forgive and love people,” he said. “When they do me wrong, I genuinely choose to love them because that’s what God asks us to do.

Read more about Mugisha’s journey to Carolina and success as an alumnus…

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