Meet Dr Susan Akinkurolere, the Ag. Principal, College of Education, Open, Distance and E-Learning at Kampala International University. Her interests lie mainly in education, discourses, and research. We cast a spotlight on her because she is an enthusiastic woman that anyone will definitely look up to.
1. Tell us about yourself
I am Dr. Susan Akinkurolere, the Ag. Principal College of Education, Open, Distance and E-Learning at Kampala International University. I was born in Ogori, Kogi state in Nigeria where my parents lived before they relocated to Ondo State when I was five years. There, I attained my primary and secondary education.
2. Where did you go to school?
To be precise, I got admissions into the university in 1998 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2002. After which I proceeded on compulsory national service in Nigeria. I started working as a lecturer in a public Polytechnic in Ondo State and then proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife for my Master of Arts in English language and I studied for a PhD in the English language in the same institution, which is one of the most prestigious universities in Nigeria.
3. What was the journey to Kampala International University like?
I came through the Technical Aid Corps (TAC) scheme, which is a bilateral agreement between the Ugandan Government and the Nigerian Government. Shortly after I received my PhD, I came across an advert from the Directorate of Technical Aid Corps, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, calling for applications from lecturers willing to serve outside Nigeria. I went for interviews in November 2017 and on 12th December 2017, I received a message that I had been deployed to serve at Kampala International University for a period of two years. On 28th February 2019, I found myself at KIU.
4. What is it like to work for Kampala International University?
I was excited to receive the news of my deployment to teach at KIU. Indeed, I have been receiving rewards in the past but working for KIU has been most rewarding because KIU places a premium on excellence. It is a delight that I am here to offer the best since there is a wide range of opportunities to explore and grow in the Institution.
5. You have been instrumental in securing grants for service grant learning at the previous University at which you served. How has it been? And are you planning the same for KIU?
It has to do with being well-grounded from the level of graduate research. Academics need to immerse themselves deeply into their work. By the time one is done with writing a thesis, then writing a proposal becomes a lot easier. I keep wondering why students hire contractors for their research. Proposal writing requires persistence and courage. One may apply and get rejected, but should never give up. I have applied for some grants and I also hope to collaborate with like minds for some research grants.
6. How did you get into this position you are in now?
I arrived at KIU when Professor Levi Nwanko was the Principal of the College of Education, Open, Distance and E-Learning, and he requested that I should coordinate the curriculum review for the College and this required me to always be in the DVC-AA office. People became curious because I could always be so early in the office and late to leave. I was there reviewing the curriculum for over two weeks. In 2019, I was appointed as the Associate Dean - Research for the College. As I was still deeply engrossed and discharging the expected duties assiduously, I got a pleasant surprise, I was appointed as the Ag. Principal for the College of Education. Both positions came within six months, which still amazes me and other colleagues.
7. What are your plans for research?
Before I attained a PhD, I was into research. It has been an interesting aspect of my life because I had the privilege of working as a lecturer in a public institution in Nigeria for 13 years before I came to Uganda. I was privileged to lead a Research and Development Unit of the Department of Languages, where I mentored both students and junior colleagues. My colleagues in Nigeria will not be surprised since they know that a golden fish has no hiding place. As the Associate Dean of Research for about five months, I was able to organize a workshop for members of staff and it was a huge success. I also organized two seminars for postgraduate students in conjunction with two other research coordinators.
8. What will be your contribution to the administration of the College?
I have spent two years with significant contributions and I will continue to mentor students both academically and non-academically. As the Ag. Principal, I am the “Chief Servant” of the College and I will ensure that there is enviable development with explicit results through productive and purposeful leadership.
9. What has been the most rewarding aspect of your academic career so far?
Obtaining my PhD was the most significant one. Initially, I thought I would not proceed to study for a PhD immediately after my Master programme but my father, who got a PhD from the United States of America, motivated me to proceed. He so much believed in me and so I never wanted to disappoint him.
10. What do your friends and acquaintances think of you?
My friends see me as someone with a pleasant personality, though an Introvert. If you are not close to me, you might think I hardly talk or associate with people.
11. What would you advise a graduate student struggling to complete his or her thesis?
My advice is that they need to pay close attention to research. Research requires concentration. It is a crucial aspect of the study. Hence, students should be familiar with current themes/issues in academia and concentrate on these in their research projects. The institution is promoting research because we are now blessed with a Directorate of Research, Innovations, Consultancy and Extension that focuses on research. We are competing globally and in line with best practices. Graduate students should always attend seminars and workshops that will groom them in research. The Directorate of Higher Degrees and Research is organizing a symposium for graduate students in March to prepare them for thesis/dissertation writing and presentation.
12. Has a student ever taught you anything valuable?
Actually, I would like to make a reference to one of the Master students in the College of Education at KIU, who is also my supervisee and mentee. He has been a source of encouragement. Any time, I get dissatisfied with students’ attitudes to studies, he always tells me to overlook students’ shortcomings and just do my best.
13. What makes you different?
I would like to say with all sense of sincerity that I am a humble person and that attracts people to me. Ordinarily, if you meet me outside the academic setting, you will not easily notice that I am an academic or I have a PhD because I respect everyone that comes my way.