Benedict Ocaka’s remarkable journey from humble beginnings to earning a First Class Honors degree in Agriculture and Community Development at Bishop Stuart University is a testament to the power of perseverance and determination.
Born in Ayuulupur Village, Lamwo District, he was the third among eight siblings, and the journey to educational triumph was anything but easy.
His parents, struggling to make ends meet, faced the daunting task of providing for their large family. In the face of financial constraints, young Benedict harbored a burning desire to complete his A-levels, despite the seeming impossibility of the situation.
His father, a cleaner at a now-defunct company, and his mother, who brewed and sold local liquor, worked hard to put food on the table.
To fund his education, Benedict, along with his elder brother Geoffrey Komakech, embarked on a resourceful venture in their village.
The brothers decided to lay bricks, a venture that yielded 12,000 bricks and Ush3,000. This modest sum helped alleviate some of the financial burdens, enabling Benedict to pay a portion of his school fees. However, the struggle did not end there.
With a relentless spirit, he engaged in various side hustles to sustain himself through school. Roasting meat on the roadside after classes and burning and selling charcoal during school holidays became part of his routine.
The income from these endeavors, although modest, contributed to his educational journey.
As the demands of high school intensified, balancing academics with side hustles became increasingly challenging. Yet, Benedict’s determination stood unwavering.
The amiable headmaster’s compassion allowed him to study until term three without clearing fees, a lifeline that ensured he could continue his education. Borrowing school materials from friends became a necessity, and at one point, he faced the threat of being barred from an exam due to accumulated fees arrears.
The government’s intervention in paying for their national exams provided a crucial lifeline, allowing him to proceed.
The culmination of his turbulent high school education saw him achieving an impressive 9 points in the A-level exams.
Unfortunately, university seemed beyond reach at that moment due to financial constraints. However, Benedict’s resilience took a different route as he decided to join the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF). A liver problem thwarted his assimilation into the force, leading him to explore other avenues.
In a twist of fate, a suggestion led him to Securex Security Company in Kampala, Uganda. Armed with academic papers and training in 2017, he secured employment and modest living quarters in Mbarara city.
Despite a monthly salary of Sh4700, Benedict managed to save KSh41,000.
The decision to pursue a regular degree course in Agriculture and Community Development at Bishop Stuart University (BSU) marked a turning point in his journey.
With the help of a man from Securex Security Company who facilitated recruitment, Benedict obtained a student loan, quit his job, and embraced full-time academics.
The fruits of his labor manifested in a remarkable achievement – graduating with First Class Honors and a GPA of 4.42, making him the second student in the department’s history to attain such distinction.