Determined and dedicated describe Mark Musumba all too well. He also takes great pride in his university.
"Every time you walk out there, you want to have a good reflection on the Corps and the university at large," he said. "That's one thing I like about wearing this uniform, and I'll really miss it."
Musumba is near the end of his studies at A&M. As he reflects on his time at A&M, he sees friends like those that joined him at the Elephant Walk, and remembers back to the beginning of his Corps experience.
"If you're a freshman, you can join Rudder's Rangers," Musumba remembered. "Basically, I got to know more freshman who are in different outfits in the Corps. I think Rudder's Rangers just basically solidified my interest in remaining in the Corps."
When you talk to Musumba, you immediately notice his accent, and come to the conclusion that he's come a long way. And you'd be right.
In more ways than one.
Musumba is from the central portion of the African nation of Uganda, located near Kenya and Tanzania. Like a pair of brothers before him, including one who came to Blinn, he wanted to pursue his education in America, and Texas A&M caught his eye.
"In my country, it's really very good to have a military background," Musumba said, "so my dad said, 'It would do you good to go to school and do this.'
"My brothers told me there was so much opportunity here in the US. I think I was really naïve about it."
Musumba joined his brother in the Twin Cities in July 2001 and tried to get into A&M, but couldn't. And just days after a great American tragedy, turmoil struck Uganda's son.
"After 9/11, I had a hard time because they threw me out of my apartment with my brother. I had nowhere to stay because I wasn't earning any income.
"It was very confusing," he continued, "and it, to me, implied that I was coming to the end of what I had aspired to achieve in the US, because anytime, I knew I was going back home."
That's where Reverend Rob Chandler comes in.
"I got a call from him one day indicating that the landlord where his brother was staying indicated that he needed to get off the premises, so he had nowhere to go," Chandler remembers. "So we, at that point, welcomed Mark to stay with us at our home for the time being, which ended up being 11 months."
Upon entering First Christian Church of Bryan/College Station on a Sunday morning, you'll see Reverend Rob Chandler preaching. He also teaches in the United Campus Ministries, where he first met Musumba. Mark's at the church, too, a part of the choir, along with A&M professor John Hoyle, who also helped pick up the torch as well.
"I took him to Blinn College and said, 'Let's get this young man enrolled. He's got what it takes,'" Hoyle said. "He made four As there. Next thing, we go over to the Corps of Cadets. He gets in the Corps. He's an academic officer, leader."
Hoyle sees the actions he and the congregation of the church took to help Musumba out as almost a divine intervention. "When I first talked to him, he said, 'I had heard of Texas A&M through a councelor, and I wanted to be in the Corps of Cadets, and I've come to Texas A&M.' And I'm thinking this is sort of a God thing. I think there's spiritual inspiration here."
"I'm here because of them, because they believed in me and put me in school because I didn't have the money," Musumba said. "They helped me pay for this and this and supported me in different ways."
"The church took Mark on as a calling, and did everything that they could to make sure that Mark would have the opportunities that he hoped to have when he came over here," Chandler said.
And anytime you speak with Musumba, even beyond the aforementioned accent, you hear the pride he has in his church, the friends who made the trip from half-a-world away all the more special.
"I really just have to thank members of my church for helping me out and getting me through school, which was one of my dreams come true."
You can find out more about Mark Musumba at the official Corps of Cadets website.
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