Hamid Rutaro '15
Master of Agribusiness
Hamid Rutaro was born and raised on a small 50-cow dairy farm in Uganda. When he was 6 years old, his grandmother gave him a goat as a reward for good grades in school. It was early that Hamid learned an important rule: success comes after hard work.
As a teenager, Hamid already owned an entire herd of goats, his first little business – and dreamed of going to college to study veterinary medicine. He grew with his jobs, making the leap over the Atlantic Ocean for an internship in California, later landing a job at a farmer-owned cooperative in Wisconsin.
Kansas State University offered the degree that Hamid was looking for – an online Master of Agribusiness. The pinnacle of his “Wildcat” chapter came in spring 2015 when he walked across the stage dressed in a master's cap and gown, proudly equipped with his degree. His research focused on improving the milk quality in his home country, Uganda.
Master of Agribusiness Student Experience
We caught up with Hamid after his graduation to give you an idea what it's like to be an online student in the Master of Agribusiness program.
Why did you choose the Master of Agribusiness program at K-State?
"I wanted something that would allow me the flexibility of continuing to work full time while going to school. So one requisite was online, but then also an alumnus who graduated from K-State a few years back saying, 'This is a really good program,' encouraged me."
How did you balance work, academics and your private life?
"It was quite challenging, but I had to set priorities and manage my time right. I sacrificed most weekends. To be honest with you, balancing work and family was really tough when it came to my thesis research, which I put a lot of work into to help dairy farmers back home. My thesis was on milk quality in Uganda, so I had to take a trip, and of course it was self-funded. It's balancing and sacrificing and knowing, 'okay, this is where I want to be in the long run,' and then taking the right steps."
What career goals do you think the Master of Agribusiness program will open up for you?
"The skills that I've learned in the program – analytical thinking, critical thinking, better decision-making, are all great skills that one can apply in terms of career development. I'm doing small businesses on the side, so the skills I've acquired will definitely help me make better business management decisions. My research on milk quality in Uganda mixed with some good recommendations could open up the door to be a leader in the dairy industry and have contact with policy makers – whether that is in educating dairy farmers or some other way of giving back to the community."
Were there any faculty or staff in the program who made an impact on you, or helped influence the direction you were going?
"Absolutely. Dr. Featherstone and Dr. Amanor-Boadu, my major professor, tremendously influenced the path that I'm on. They're icons to me and I look up to them. I also enjoyed working with the department staff. They're amazing people – especially Mary and Deborah.
The personal experience of my professors and instructors made it so much easier to understand their message and the content of the program. They talk from a business world perspective, not just from the academic view. I found that very helpful since I've been working professionally for a while. I can say that I've learned applications that would impact my own businesses, too."
What is the most valuable part of your experience in the program?
"The network that I created is phenomenal because it's a group of people from very different backgrounds. Each one of us is doing something different, but you find some way to connect and learn something from the other person. The network you create combined with the analytical skills help you to look at things from a different, but better perspective. It has been a great program. Honestly, when I finished my bachelor's, I never had a fantasy about getting a second degree, but now, with the way this program has influenced me, I'm thinking about doing either another master's or even a Ph.D."