Knight Shifts: Heroic Work Ethic Paves Successful Path for Uganda Native

Shasta College Alum Spotlight – Wilberforce Ndyanabo

If college credit came easy, they wouldn’t call it “earning a degree.” Still, somehow, in the case of Shasta College alum Wilberforce Ndyanabo, the phrase seems to come up short.

Between coursework, clinical rotations, his job as a Shasta College safety officer and his service as a corpsman in the U.S. Navy Reserves, the nursing student committed himself to virtually every opportunity that didn’t involve a day off. Today, the Uganda native’s tenacity is paying off in both his career and his community, setting the tone for his essential work as a registered nurse in Mercy Medical Center’s ICU.  

“When I came into Redding, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know where I was going,” admits Ndyanabo. “I had a desire to go to school and I knew how to do that, but … Shasta College has been amazing in terms of providing opportunities for me to stabilize a family of four and … achieve an education.”

Even upon graduating, Ndyanabo never stopped multitasking. Having previously worked as a skills coach in Shasta College’s Emergency Medical Technician program, the never-too-busy Knight now pulls double-duty as an EMT instructor. Reflecting on his journey from stress to success, he credits the flexibility of his counselors, resources like TRIO and EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs and Services), and Shasta’s reliable support team for keeping him afloat.

“Those times when I would have to go to work, and run to school, and then leave clinical rotations, and come to work as campus safety,” reflects Ndyanabo. “Everybody was really helpful.”

“He is an amazing individual,” says Dr. Scott Croes, Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Shasta College. Dr. Croes was first Ndyanabo’s instructor in Physiology before becoming a mentor, and now, a friend. “To know Wilberforce is to witness pure determination and enthusiasm for learning.” 

Ndyanabo arrived in the United States in 2013 already possessing valuable EMT experience. His success story was set into motion when his wife enrolled in EMT courses at Shasta College in 2016 and, knowing his background in the field, spoke to her instructor and arranged for him to serve as a skills coach.  

“Getting a job, even if it was just part-time, was just paying barely above minimum wage, it would create a little bit of stability for me,” recalls Ndyanabo. 

From there, Ndyanabo worked part-time while simultaneously earning enough credits to transfer to a four-year university. At the time, his long-term dream was to become a doctor or physician’s assistant. Little did he know, the skills coach position would be the first step toward an alternate career pathway at Shasta College. 

Having earned enough credits to transfer, he chose the Shasta College Nursing program instead. Shasta’s focused-but-flexible pathway, he decided, was the option that best fit his personal schedule, growing family, and newfound career goals. 

“For an employer [that] allows a student to go to work, gives them that opportunity and gives them a chance to study on the job?” reflects Ndyanabo. “For me, that was a sign that they were the right agency and college to work for.” 

The nursing professional looks back especially fondly on his time as a campus safety officer. He remembers visiting the campus safety office to learn more about the opportunity and being impressed by the convenience and flexibility of the position.

“They had student workers there holding the radio and responding to radio calls while they’re studying on the job,” describes Ndyanabo. “For me, that was amazing,” 

Ultimately, it was that dexterity of schedule that Ndyanabo says made it possible to reach his full potential, as it not only supported his higher education goals, but struck a better balance between work, school, and family time. 

“If I wanted a night shift, they were like, ‘Okay, we’ll help you out with night shifts so you can have time with family and school during the daytime,’” continues Ndyanabo. “If I wanted extra hours, they were always flexible.”

The Shasta College nursing program is supported by the Strong Workforce Program, which provides educational materials and training equipment for nursing students. SWP-funded courses teach essential hands-on skills like taking vitals, dressing wounds, administering medications, and more, preparing students like Ndyanabo for dynamic careers in this vital healthcare role. SWP funds also help cover the costs of licenses and NCLEXPRN and NCLEX-RN exam certification fees for students. 

For the determined healthcare hero, it was advantages like these that set Shasta College apart from the four-year destinations he considered. 

“I’ve had three jobs at Shasta College … I’ve worked my way, [and] there’s always room to grow as long as you’re willing to meet the requirements,” Ndyanabo says proudly. “There’s a lot of opportunities in this place and in this country, and … the resources are there.”

But it takes more than just opportunity to succeed in college, according to Dr. Croes.

“Wilberforce is one of the hardest working individuals I know and gives all that he has to his family, care for his patients, his students, and friends,” he says. 

The professor’s words continue to ring true as Ndyanabo adds pages to his success story. Since completing the Nursing program and passing the state licensure exam, Ndyanabo is now employed at his “dream job,” while staying true to his Shasta College roots as an EMT instructor.

When it comes to advice for his nursing students, the proud professional has a few wise words to share: “Be humble … Be like a sponge, soaking in as much information as you can. 

“Always keep climbing. That’s what I tell my students.” 

The hard-working alum reflects fondly on all he has accomplished so far. With a career built on a foundation of passion, work, and determination, the opportunities aren’t likely to slow down anytime soon. 

“For me, the message is to follow your dreams and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise,” says Ndyanabo. “I come from a poor country and a poor family, and can’t imagine what I have achieved.” 

May 2024