Sylvia Kirungi is the Minister of Gender in the Guild Council at School of Finance and Banking (SFB).
Born in Uganda, the 22-year-old is pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Management and Finance. She was elected in May this year and her term ends next year since it’s a post held annually.
She applied for the post and as a policy at SFB, for one to qualify for the campaigns; they have to send credentials like their performance transcripts before they are nominated.
“In order to be nominated, one is supposed to be disciplined with a good record, so after sending my credentials, I was nominated together with another girl. We had a public campaign before the elections,” Kirungi narrates.
She further adds that since she was once a prefect in her high school she was a little nervous but not scared.
“Public speaking was not something new to me although this was more intellectual base and the responsibility is big,” she explains.
According to the institution’s policy, candidates are not supposed to be around the voting area and they also don’t vote. It’s the student representatives that vote.
“While they were counting the votes, I could not handle the pressure, I would talk to my campaigning manager on phone but still it didn’t change the way I felt. She would tell me when I’m leading and even when we had the same number of votes with my opponent,” kirungi discloses.
At the end of the day, she emerged the winner. Regarding what inspired her, she said: “I’m interested in gender initiatives such as gender empowerment. Most females are always scared to take up roles out there. This is what encouraged me to apply for the post.”
She emphasizes that if one doesn’t try out anything, they can never learn.
“Try everything that is there to try since there is always the first time for everything and perfecting it, is what matters,”Kirungi explains.
The soft-spoken yet eloquent Kirungi enjoys interacting with people and gets to air out her opinion and ideals openly.
“Anyone can be a leader or an influential person; I go out there and I don’t like to shy away. I want to be a role model for girls and show them that they don’t need to fear, they can do anything as long as they put their heart to it,” she expresses.
Her role Model is her mother Musiime Louise.
“I love her courage, she is a strong woman and so mild. There are some women just because they have good jobs or are in big positions they think they are above everyone. Women emancipation aims at equality and working together,” Kirungi explains.
She adds that both women and men are supposed to work together than compete.
“United we stand, divided we fall, I don’t think there is a reason of climbing up alone since being there alone is useless. No one can achieve anything on their own,” she stresses
Her role as the Gender Minister is to promote self confidence in students, and empower them in several activities such as debating.
“For instance, a day before we had a debate with Mutara Polytechnic regarding the proposed University of Rwanda, by combining all higher institution under one management,” Kirungi reveals.
As for her comment on the proposed university she said: “I do think it’s a good idea and its process should be gradual. It should not just be imposed. Let them first get to know the students views since they are the ones who will be affected by the whole situation.”
Life at campus (University) is considered one the most enjoyable since it comes with independence. But Kirungi thinks otherwise.
“I also thought that at campus you can have all the fun you want packaged with the independence but that’s not true. You learn to be more responsible since there is no one to look after you but yourself,” she reveals.
She adds that campus life is hard.
“It’s an ongoing challenge. You have to know the friends to associate with and balance the books with the fun. It’s stressing in a way,” says Kirungi.
While many students were scraped off the living allowance (Rwf25, 000) some still benefit from it. She is beneficially of government sponsorship and luckily both her tuition and living allowance are catered for.
“When the decision was passed that a few students would benefit from the living allowance a list of the beneficially was pinned and my name was not there. Many students were disoriented,” she discloses.
However, an option was given to student to re-apply that was how Kirungi got the chance to become a beneficially again.
“This time round researchers visited each student’s home to see if they are worth receiving the living allowance and they came to my home as well,” She explains
Kirungi‘s childhood dream was to become a Doctor, but her vision changed with time.
“I wanted to be a Doctor, along the way it changed because of my fear for sick people. I prefer dealing with people in a more social aspect than doing technical things,” she explains
She adds that she would want to be a financial analyst when she graduates.
In a phone interview with Kirungi’s aunt Gladys Mutesi the Human Resource Manager of Immigration, described her niece as a hardworking girl.
“Since her childhood, she has been the best in her class. She is very intelligent and involved in many school activities. Kirungi is an obedient, honest and reliable person,” Mutesi expresses.
Cyrus Nkusi, Director of Rwanda Youth Network‘s view about Kirungi didn’t differ so much from her aunt’s.
“I have known Kirungi for the last two year since she is an intern at Rwanda Youth Network. She is pro-active and tends to have a direct vision. Besides being a good public speaker, she is eloquent and when she starts something she aims at completing it,” Nkusi disclose.