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MassBay Grad Engineers a Plan to Give Back

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Liz Cooper

Matthew Kajura MassBay Community College graduate, Matthew Kajura, Cambridge, MA, May 2022 (Photo: Matthew Kajura)

WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass. (July 5, 2022) &8212; Recent MassBay Community College graduate Matthew Kajura of Cambridge, MA will transfer to Cornell University in fall 2022 to begin earning his bachelor’s degree in engineering, and he plans to leverage his accumulated skills and knowledge to help the citizens of his home country of Uganda build sustainable infrastructure. After being the recipient of others' mentorship and guidance and experiencing the impact on his own life, Matthew is determined to move back to Uganda to pay it forward and share what he has learned.

In January of 2020, Matthew moved from the East African country of Uganda to his uncle’s home in Cambridge, MA to study at MassBay. “My uncle’s friend graduated from MassBay’s Automotive Technology Toyota program and was successful in his career. He recommended MassBay to me because of its affordability and the transfer opportunities to four-year colleges that would be available to me after earning my associate degree. It was an easy decision for me,” said Matthew.

Five weeks into Matthew’s first semester, and only two months after arriving in the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic closed our borders and airports. “It was an interesting time for me. I was still new to the U.S., attending college for the first time, and was far away from home, but I was thankful for my family’s support. Getting up to speed with the technology needed for remote and online classes was a big learning curve for me. Technology here is much more robust, faster, and more complex than in Uganda, but with a substantial amount of help from my family and from MassBay, I caught on and was able to keep progressing in my classes.”

By fall semester of 2020, Matthew had settled into his engineering classes and learned to navigate the resources available on campus. “MassBay offers many opportunities through their Academic Achievement Center (AAC) to help students with coursework. I would spend a lot of time in the AAC, taking advantage of their free tutoring so I could do my best in my classes. I had some incredible professors including Tracey Vincent, Raman Nambudripad, Laith Asfar, and Marina Bograd, who gave me a strong foundation in the understanding of math and engineering materials. They motivated me, believed in my abilities, and kept classes interesting and challenging. I could see their passion for the subject matter and how they want their students to succeed. They were truly encouraging and inspiring,” Matthew added. 

“One thing that was clear to me about MassBay was how everyone at the College helped students succeed academically as well as outside of college life. Professor Bograd often brought in engineering alumni and industry experts to speak to us and share their experiences. Knowing that they once walked in my shoes and seeing where they are today, influenced me to one day pay it forward myself. After I receive my bachelor’s degree, I plan to return to MassBay to mentor future engineering students. I believe providing students with information about transfer opportunities and giving them a glimpse into the engineering industry will help them thrive in their education and careers.”

“Another great aspect about MassBay is the collaboration with Framingham State University (FSU) to allow MassBay students to live in the FSU housing. I was able to take advantage of this when my uncle moved and I found I had nowhere to stay. Moving into the FSU dorms in fall 2021 was an experience that will forever be etched in my heart. The student community is welcoming and even though I was not a student at FSU, I made long-life friends there,” he added.

Matthew’s academic goal always was to work hard during his time at MassBay, and then transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree. His efforts paid off, making the Dean’s List every semester, and being inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. “It was my dream to attend Cornell University’s School of Engineering, and I’m excited to say it has come true. I will start at Cornell in the fall as a junior, majoring in civil engineering. Everyone at MassBay helped me get into Cornell. I met lifelong friends at MassBay, and I was able to find myself while planning out a path for my future.”

Matthew graduated from MassBay in May 2022 with an Associate of Science degree in Engineering and a 3.9 GPA. He now looks forward to attending Cornell University in the fall. His future goals after completing his degree at Cornell include gaining practical experience in the engineering field and ultimately moving back to Uganda. “I look forward to using what I have learned to develop sustainable infrastructure.”

MassBay Community College is the most affordable higher education option in MetroWest Boston, offering a robust portfolio of courses and more than 70 associate degree and certificate programs with flexible day, evening, and weekend classes in Ashland, Framingham, Wellesley Hills, and online. MassBay students receive an unmatched educational value by earning stackable credits that transfer to bachelor’s degree programs, and workforce-ready skills necessary to advance careers in high-demand fields such as health and life sciences, automotive technology, engineering, business, cybersecurity, and the humanities. MassBay’s Associate Degree in Nursing (RN) and Practical Nursing (LPN) programs were both ranked as the #1 Nursing Program in Massachusetts in 2020-2021 by national nursing advocacy organizations, and Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and remains firmly committed to its mission of meeting the needs of the diverse local communities it serves. We value the intrinsic worth of all individuals, collectively in pursuit of inclusiveness and prioritize our work towards achieving equity within our community and beyond.

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Students + Alumni