2021 Augustana Convocation Spotlight: Arnold Gihozo

Congratulations to Arnold Gihozo, winner of the 2021 Mark Chytracek Leadership Award. Learn a bit more about Arnold, his time at Augustana and the advice he wants to offer new students.

17 November 2021

Arnold gihozo

Mark Chytracek Leadership Award | Former President of the Augustana Students’ Association | Director of Communication, AfriYouth Club | Member of the Diversity Working Group | Member of Manskor | Founder and Vice President, insIDE Club | Onesimus Award | Augustana Leadership Award | Onesimus Award | Heather Roxanne Huber Memorial Award

Who was your favourite mentor or professor at Augustana?

I have been very fortunate to have outstanding professors at Augustana throughout my undergraduate degree. It is tough to choose one professor because each person at Augustana has helped me get to where I am right now. So instead of choosing, I would like to mention the people who have significantly impacted and supported me through this process.

I would like to start off by thanking Rosanna Heise as she has taught me how to become a great engineer, have attention to detail within my code and always go beyond the surface level! She has taught me to go deep into my thinking and aim to understand any engineering decisions made.

The second person would be professor Sandra Rein, who has been a great mentor and support for me in my final two years on campus. I was fortunate to work with her as her teaching assistant and get her assistance within several governance works! 

Finally, I would like to thank dean Demetres Tryphonopoulos. Although I haven't taken any direct class with him, I was very honoured to work closely with him in my final year at Augustana as the president of the Augustana Students’ Association. Professor Tryphonopoulos has been a great mentor to me as he has showcased well how to lead a campus within challenging times. 

As mentioned before, it is tough to choose one singular professor as every single staff/professor has played their role in the success of every Augustana student! I am very thankful to all the staff at the SAS office, the team with the dining hall, residence services staff and student experience! It has been such a pleasure to get to work with the fantastic people at this campus. 

What was your favourite class at Augustana?

At my core, I believe in always helping and giving back to my community. Software Engineering II (AUCSC 320) was probably one of my favourite classes throughout my degree. This class has shaped a lot of my understanding, philosophy and practices regarding engineering today. It has also given me a chance to use the skills acquired to give back to my community.

What’s your best memory from Augustana?

In general, I associate many of my memories with the experience I have lived throughout my life. Although my time at Augustana was relatively short, I have lived a tremendous amount of great experience through it.

One of my best memories would have to be the first year I participated in Manskor. During that year, the entire choir drove to perform in a small town for Christmas. The church itself had such a cozy set-up and was filled with very welcoming people. After the performance, the community invited us to come to share a meal with them. This was a memorable experience as we got to share the power of music and feel so loved and welcomed in this community!

Another memory that I will forever cherish is the day-to-day experience, such as studying in the library and quickly buying a coffee at Monica's or the long nights studying in dorms and ordering Domino's pizza at midnight to share with friends! The combination of such experience and the people spend with will never be forgotten!

If you could give a new student a piece of advice about studying at Augustana, what would it be?

Take advantage of the whole Augustana experience! You are more than your degree, and the experience will shape the person you will present into the world. For example, coming into my program, I had the pre-conception that I only had to take science courses. Although these courses were quite valuable, I gained equally (or even more) from some of the social science I took, such as criminology, sociology and an introduction to Indigenous studies. These disciplines helped shape my vision of the world and understand its complexity (as often things are not necessarily as straightforward as we might think).

The second piece of advice I would give is to not be afraid of failure. As scary as that might be, it is by failing that you get to learn what works or doesn't work for you! Each of us has our own path to follow, and not one is better than the other. We all have our gifts and talents to share with the world, and through the education we get at Augustana, we get to explore and be ready to utilize them in the workforce. So do not be afraid to try new stuff, or drop and trying others until you find your light or drive in the things you do! Do not give up in the face of a challenge! Jump for it, challenge yourself and discover a new side of yourself you would have never known. You do not need to have everything figured out on the first try!

Finally, the last piece of advice I would give is to lead with kindness. As you begin your journey at Augustana, you will go through both good and challenging experiences (whether that is academically or personally). Whether it is you going through those challenges or a friend, it is essential to approach any situation with kindness and compassion. We have to remember that we are all humans attempting to go through the challenges of life.

What have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 was a real challenge for me because I found myself studying online in my final year of university and lacking social interactions with my peers, professors and friends! As unfortunate as this may be, it gave me the time for a lot of self-reflection and improvements in the way I approach a lot of items in my life. The pandemic has helped me to grow as an individual, develop skills in areas that I never considered and reflect on where I want to head in my life! From these buckets of reflection, I learned to trust myself in the decisions I make in my life, become comfortable with failure and take care of the people I love and care about.

What’s next for you?

Since May 2021, I have joined the engineering team at Areto Labs as their lead software engineer. I have been working within this company for the past six months and have enjoyed every single moment of it. The education I gained at Augustana helped me navigate the different facets of the industry (both on the social and engineering aspect). I am happy and enjoy the position I am in and hope to help the company get to its mission of making digital communities a more inclusive space.

Outside of school, I am still pursuing my passion for music by incorporating music listening in my day-to-day life and joining groups to create music together (or “musicking”, as professor Ardelle Ries, puts it very well).

In the long-term, I hope to keep doing the kind of work I am doing at Areto Labs, where I get to use my skills and education to better our communities and society overall! Technology has become a considerable part of our lives, so I am curious about utilizing such systems to improve our digital communities.

Join us in celebrating our Augustana Campus graduates at the University of Alberta's Fall 2021 online convocation ceremony on Friday, November 19 at 10 a.m.