In recent years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been plagued by conflict, leading to the displacement of 5.5 million people as of December 2022, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
For Desire T.E.P Mukucha, this conflict serves as a constant reminder to focus on his goals. Though he mostly grew up in Tanzania and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mukucha hasn’t forgotten his native country, and, ultimately, it’s what drives him to continue his education.
Mukucha participated in the Summer Underrepresented Minority Research Internship Program at Case Western Reserve University as an undergraduate student from Beloit College. Led by faculty members Adrianne Fletcher and Sonia Minnes from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, the program paired students interested in the social sciences with researchers who mentored them over the course of eight weeks, which culminated with each student giving a presentation.
Mukucha was so inspired by the experience that he applied to the Master of Nonprofit Organizations (MNO) program at the Mandel School, where he’s now a student. He also went on to complete an internship with the Supreme Court of Ohio alongside Fletcher, while she served as the court’s inaugural director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Now in his last semester of the MNO program, Mukucha is looking ahead to applying his studies and even obtaining a JD in international law.
“My desire to help, support and advocate for others greatly inspires me to continue moving forward with my studies, which are only a milestone to reaching greater goals,” he said. “My degree is a portal to a whole other realm.”
1. What inspired you to pursue a degree in nonprofit management?
I came from a family of service—a family that has its roots embedded deeply in the works of nonprofit organizations. Ever since I was a young boy, I have worked with multiple nonprofit organizations of all sorts, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Rescue Committee, UNICEF and World Division Tanzania. Choosing the MNO program felt natural to me, especially with my background in international relations.
2. What was your experience like at the Supreme Court of Ohio?
[It] happened as if it was divine timing; it overall made my transition to CWRU smooth. It provided me with many extensive learning opportunities. Through this experience, I was able to take theories learned in the classroom and apply them in the real world. I had first-class experience in the government and the nonprofit sector. I was able to work and accrue many skills and professional attributes that can only be gained through hands-on experience.
3. What were some of your responsibilities?
During my time with the Supreme Court, I was assigned research projects for the diversity, equity and inclusion office to aid in increasing the number of minority externs and law clerks within the Supreme Court of Ohio. My projects involved research on minority students who are not passing the LSAT at the same rate as non-minority [students].
Furthermore I was able to work on a collaborative project between the court and the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation.
4. Have you had any other internships or experiential learning activities during your graduate or undergraduate education?
I just concluded another internship through the Institute for Smart, Secure and Connected Systems’ Public Interest Technology Fellowship and the Cleveland Department of Public Health. During my time there, I worked on the CLEANinCLE project. My responsibility was to identify language access needs for the project and understand language composition at the neighborhood level within the City of Cleveland. The goals and objectives were to aid in building a comprehensive communication plan for public meetings.
5. Have you been involved on campus or in Cleveland in any other ways?
During my time in Cleveland, I have been a part of the African Student Association on campus and the track and field team, I have also been active in the community with AmeriCorps’ IConnect program, which aims to prevent social isolation for old adults.