Humans of the U: Collins Kabaira

“I’m originally from Zimbabwe. I went to Snow College for two years, and then came over to the U. I tried to get as involved as possible so I did a year as an ASUU vice-chair of special events. When I first transferred, I was a chemical engineering student, but then I couldn’t afford to go to school for a semester and a half. When I came back I shifted over to chemistry. It gave me the option of trying to create something new and understand why things work. My emphasis was materials science and engineering, so even though I switched, it wasn’t too far away. Chemistry gave me a magnifying glass of how things work so I really enjoyed it.

Coming where I came from, opportunities just don’t come up every day. A lot of people sacrificed for me to get here. I haven’t seen my parents in almost four years. In Africa, we have a saying that’s ‘a village raises a child.’ If anything, I could be the embodiment of that because a lot of people helped me to get to where I am.

There were days where I didn’t think I was going to make it, days when I couldn’t pay to go to school or didn’t have enough money and I couldn’t afford a meal. I kept believing, even in those dark times, that if you just keep pushing eventually those little pushes will compound to a big effect. Just keep going even when it doesn’t look like there’s light.”

—Collins Kabaira, chemistry peer mentor, Class of 2019, B.S. in Chemistry, Materials Science & Engineering emphasis

Human of the U, Collins Kabaira, who’s originally from Zimbabwe and is now graduating with a degree in Chemistry. It’s been a rough road, but he’s proud to be where he is now.

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at