Dr. Misheck Mwaba Feature Interview
“I think for us to make a difference, we need to take a risk and put ourselves out there,” says Dr. Misheck Mwaba.
Dr. Mwaba is the President and CEO of Bow Valley College and has championed the College’s Open Doors – Open Minds strategy. Born in Zambia, Dr. Mwaba earned his BEng in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Zambia, before his pursuit of education led him to the University of Manchester, where he earned his MSc in Mechanical Engineering, before finally earning his Ph.D. in Energy Technology at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.
In 2003, Dr. Mwaba moved to Ottawa to do his Postdoc Fellow at Carleton University and has since moved to Calgary, Alberta.
“I’m very happy at Bow Valley College, I hope this is the job I retire into,” says Dr. Mwaba.
When asked if he knew he wanted to work in education, Dr. Mwaba tells of how at primary school, he would write “Education is the golden key to success” on his notebooks.
“My mother was a teacher, and she talked about how she got excited every time she saw kids change as they progressed in their education journey,” says Dr. Mwaba. “I’ve always been pulled to go back to education.”
Education is a powerful tool of change, for individuals and their communities. According to the paper The Economic Benefits of Increased Literacy by Dr. John Cameron (School of Development Studies, UEA, UK) and Stuart Cameron (Institute of Development Studies, UK), countries with higher literacy rates are more likely to make progress in human and economic development overall.
“Working in education helps me change the world,” says Dr. Mwaba.
Having lived in Calgary for five years, Dr. Mwaba says he’s realized the Black community here has been doing “amazing things for Calgarians.”
“Think of an industry, there are Black individuals making a difference,” says Dr. Mwaba, referencing Dr. Charles Odame-Ankrah, an analytical chemist who got his Ph.D. at the University of Calgary who was recently featured in the Calgary Herald for receiving a United States patent for his invention. Dr. Odame-Ankrah is originally from Ghana.
“If Alberta continues to open its doors to immigrants from around the world, I hope some of this magic can continue to happen,” said Dr. Odame-Ankrah to the Calgary Herald.
Dr. Mwaba says though Calgary is diverse, there are “pockets” or communities where you would not think that.
“There are places where when you look around you don’t see any Black faces. Until you’re introduced, Calgary can seem very closed. Find ways of networking and find ways of getting out of your comfort zone and find people to help you make those connections. Volunteer your time. Calgary has lots of programs, but newcomers need to reach out.”
Finally, Dr. Mwaba cautions newcomers that Calgary’s weather is unpredictable, and not to count on the warm weather of a Chinook.