Kakumba Family Launches Scholarship in Honor of Professor Frederick W. Kakumba

February 26, 2019

Professor Frederick W. KakumbaThe Hudson Valley Community College Foundation has announced a new scholarship in honor of retired Professor Frederick W. Kakumba.

The Professor Frederick W. Kakumba Equal Opportunity Scholarship was created by the family and friends of Professor Kakumba in honor of his 75th birthday. Kakumba was the first black professor of economics at Hudson Valley Community College. He was a positive role model for many students and paved the way for other professors.  This scholarship honors his 40-year career and establishes a legacy for generations to come.

The $500 scholarship will be awarded to a matriculated student who demonstrates leadership, and preference will be given to students of African descent (i.e. African American, African or Caribbean) who may be financially challenged when it comes to gaining access to quality education.

Professor Kakumba grew up in Uganda in a village that did not have a school; students would gather under a tree for their lessons. In the 1960s, he left Uganda to come to America and further his education. Here, he studied business, finance and banking. He completed an internship at Key Bank in 1967, and eventually became the first minority bank manager in the Capital Region.

In 1970, Professor Kakumba began teaching economics and African studies at Hudson Valley. He originally planned to complete his higher education and go back to Africa, but his teaching experience opened him up to a lifetime of learning. He joined several committees at the college and served as a representative to the New York State Community College Association, among other boards and committees.

Professor Kakumba spent his entire four-decade career at the college fully committed to his students and to furthering his own understanding of his subject matter. He could always be found either reading, studying or teaching, and even dedicating many weekends and evenings to tutoring his students. Even when he retired in 2010, he couldn’t stay away for long, continuing to teach a course or two per semester for the next several years.

His wife, Dawn, said that the scholarship will help students get an education despite whatever circumstances may hold them back—a hallmark of her husband’s career and teaching style.

"Students liked his method of teaching because he worked his experiences into the coursework," she explained. "If his students had issues and missed class, he would take his own time to tutor them on evenings and weekends. His teaching philosophy was 'No one should fail,' and that everyone can get an 'A' if they aim high. Don’t say never, don’t say 'I can't,' say 'I can.'"

To donate to the Professor Frederick W. Kakumba Equal Opportunity Scholarship fund, contact the Hudson Valley Community College Foundation at foundation@hvcc.edu or (518) 629-8012.