By Valens Tuyishime
Success takes significant time and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight. Egide Niyongira, an Administrator and East Africa Employment Lead at Southern New Hampshire University, Global Education Movement (SNHU GEM) can attest to this.
I was very interested to have a conversation with Egide; it was motivating to hear his thoughts on innovating around one’s passions.
Born and raised in Rwanda, Egide completed high school in 2014 and joined Kepler, a nonprofit higher education program that operates a university campus in Kigali. In 2017, he started working as a teaching assistant at Kepler while he was still a student.
“I didn’t consider this my dream job; I was just doing it to get experience and it was an opportunity to apply some concepts I learned from my academics,” he said. “I received invaluable feedback from my advisor that essentially changed my perspective. This is because I focused on getting experience as well as completing my academic activities. My advisor told me that people always start their career with small things, but in the end, they find themselves enjoying what they do. Through his advice, I started loving to teach and decided to focus on it as my career.”
As a teaching assistant, Egide supported facilitators in preparing courses, recording attendance and tracking the performance of students. Later in 2017, he applied for a course facilitator position and was ultimately selected to teach professional competencies classes at the Kepler University Program. As a course facilitator, his main responsibilities were to plan daily courses, provide feedback on students’ assignments, advise students and grade submissions, among other tasks.
“For three years, I worked with students and supported them to improve their English,” he explained. “I worked with my team to use different online platforms to support the students from different cultural backgrounds with different technology experiences, accounting for disruptions that might occur when it rains for example. We also adapted solutions based on students’ backgrounds.”
After three years at Kepler, Egide shifted to his current position at SNHU GEM as Administrator and East Africa Employment Lead.
This is an organization that partners with the Kepler University Program to provide US-accredited degrees to Kepler scholars. In his role, Egide is connecting GEM students with employers and negotiating with students’ internship stipends with employers.
“I took this as a promotion because I am doing what I love to do with high exposure to different cultures and challenges which stretch my thinking to be more creative and innovative,” he said. “It has been a great opportunity to grow professionally, interact with people from different cultural backgrounds and learn from new challenges.”
He is working hard to be creative every day to ensure that students are well supported regardless of their obstacles.
“I need to be innovative by taking into account the challenges students are facing,” he explained. “In response, we need to initiate different policies to ensure the inclusion of students from all GEM sites and then use different online resources to support them. For me, being innovative requires communicating effectively with my colleagues across their preferred communication channels.”
Key Lessons on Innovation
Here are some of the key lessons I gleaned from Egide as it relates to innovation, which for me means providing solutions to key challenges.
Be responsible and ask for support. This entails doing one’s job the right way. If you don't know the solution, ask for advice.
Learn from mistakes. Making mistakes is not a mistake. It is a mistake if you fail to learn from it. Adapt your strategies accordingly.
Think out of the box. Innovators think deeply and see what other people are not able to see.
Have a clear plan. Employers are looking for people who have professional skills.
Stay focused. Social media, technology and events make it easy to be distracted and deviate from achieving our goals.
It was great to hear how Egide started his journey and reached his dream. Insights from Egide have motivated me to stay focused and avoid distractions while pursuing my career goals of being a manager specializing in logistics and operations.
The conversation with Egide served as a reminder about what it takes to reach one’s desired career. It was inspiring to hear Egide’s career development strategies such as taking additional time for learning technology, being responsible for work, being an effective communicator and knowing how to handle challenges without waiting on others. I drew inspiration from how he used his academic studies as a springboard for his career.
Learning and success are long never-ending journeys. Strategies from successful people can motivate different communities. Egide’s journey can encourage any student.
Learn more about Edige at his LinkedIn profile.
Valens Tuyishime is a student at Southern New Hampshire University, Global Education Movement University Program in Rwanda. You can connect with him on LinkedIn. He wrote this story after going through Global Innovators Academy's Interview an Innovator online course experience.