Updated May 16, 2022 - 1:20 am
George William Kajjumba grew up in the Masaka district of southern Uganda, where he and his family depended on groundwater springs. When those springs dried out, he and his family had to travel longer distances to look for water.
“Imagine a child of only 10 years, moving distances close to 5 miles just to look for water,” he said. “You can call it catastrophic. … Back then, we used to endure it as kids.”
Kajjumba’s childhood would ultimately shape his doctoral research at UNLV, which has focused on methods to treat wastewater and on bridging the gap between water shortages and food insecurity.
“We are just recycling the same drop of water that was used by the first people,” he said. “Why can’t we just shorten that cycle?”
Kajjumba is one of more than 3,300 UNLV students graduating across three ceremonies this weekend at the university’s Thomas &Mack Center.
The university planned a ceremony for its master’s, doctoral and graduate certificate students for Friday afternoon, with ceremonies for undergraduate students scheduled for 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday.
This is the first year that UNLV has hosted a separate ceremony for its graduate students. A university spokeswoman cited the college’s growing number of degree recipients.
Kajjumba is one of six undergraduate and graduate students who were to be honored over the weekend for their outstanding achievements by UNLV President Keith Whitfield.
Whitfield also was expected to award honorary doctorates to Swedish-born singer and actress Ann-Margret, and longtime Las Vegas businessman and Republican political consultant Sig Rogich.
The class of 2022 hails from 40 states and 56 foreign countries, and its members range in age from 19 to 77.
For Kajjumba, Friday’s graduation was the culmination of research and questions that he has pondered for most of his life. After graduating with a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering, he plans to continue his water treatment research with the Southern Nevada Water Authority.
“My main goal is to make sure that my project goes from the school level, from the innovator level, to the implementation level,” he said.
This weekend’s graduation ceremonies can be streamed online at www.unlv.edu/commencement/live-stream.
Contact Lorraine Longhi at 480-243-4086 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @lolonghi on Twitter.