KOKOMO, Ind. – When Tsarai Chimhanda speaks of the benefits of earning a degree at Indiana University Kokomo, he draws on his own experience.
“This is a gold mine. It positions you to compete at a high level. I know what I learned here prepared me to succeed out there,” he said. “Being able to go out into the accounting field and apply what I learned as a student confirmed what I knew, that this is a good, quality education.”
Now a visiting lecturer in business, he began a successful career as a certified public accountant after earning a graduate certificate in accounting, and then a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.).
He wants his students at IU Kokomo to realize that when everybody contributes, everybody benefits.
“We become a better society by allowing everyone to contribute their skill sets,” he said. “Everybody has a gift to contribute. The starting point is realizing and appreciating the contributions others bring, and the benefits that come from allowing others to participate.”
Chimhanda – who grew up in Zimbabwe – had parents who were high school teachers. They emphasized the importance of education, sending their children to international schools, where their teachers and classmates came from all over the world. His teachers inspired him to leave his home country for college, which led him first to Houston, Texas.
While he hadn’t planned on becoming an educator himself, he was offered an opportunity to teach as an adjunct faculty member in 2015 and discovered a love for teaching, just like his parents.
“I did not plan it this way,” he said. “When I began teaching, I realized right away this was something I could enjoy. Now I understand why my parents were so passionate about it.”
In the classroom, he draws not only on his knowledge of accounting and experience as an alumnus of IU Kokomo, but also his experiences growing up in Zimbabwe, and his appreciation of contributions African Americans — and all people of color — have made in the world.
Black History Month is a time to make sure people understand the importance of those contributions, and how everyone benefits both inside and outside of his classroom.
“The positive message from Martin Luther King Jr. has impacted societies all over the world,” he said. “It’s a celebration not just here, but globally. We’re thankful for the sacrifices and contributions people like him made. Being here in this country, I’m appreciative of being a recipient of those contributions, those sacrifices, and their achievements.”