The University of Iowa

In the news: From setback to success

December 14th, 2021

Story by Sara Epstein Moninger, University of Iowa

Future plans: Currently interviewing with companies in the Des Moines area, with plans to continue her business education at the UI Tippie College of Business via Pappajohn Education Center in Des Moines

In addition to earning a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Certificate in Event Management from the University of Iowa, Kethia Mulongo will leave campus with something else when she graduates in December 2021: the knowledge that she can successfully navigate challenges.

Mulongo, who was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and came to the United States for a college education, moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 2015 to be near her older brother. She completed an associate’s degree from Kirkwood Community College with little effort and then spent a year working for GreenState Credit Union to see if a career in accounting, a subject she studied in her home country, was a good fit. She decided to continue her education in 2019 at the UI Tippie College of Business—and quickly learned how to persevere.

“I did badly on my first midterm, and it was a really big shock. I cried for days,” Mulongo says. “Then I went to my adviser’s office in the College of Business and asked her what I could do.”

The adviser had a number of recommendations—studying on campus, getting involved in student organizations, and taking advantage of professors’ office hours—and Mulongo took the advice to heart. She stopped driving to campus from Cedar Rapids each day, instead opting to use the 380 Express bus service. That gave her flexibility to spend more time on campus and participate in extracurricular activities. She ended up with a good grade in the business class. Then COVID-19 threw her a curveball.

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