Few people put together a resume as long and impressive as Narcisse Kunda’s over a four-year span while balancing a full-time class schedule. A dual-major (management and marketing), student-employee of five on-campus jobs, five-time Chancellor’s List student (minimum 3.8 GPA), student government leader, and member of eight different student organizations on campus, Kunda is among the busiest and hardest-working students you’ll come across.
The most impressive part: he only began learning English as a sophomore in high school when his family immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2015. Two years removed, Kunda wasn’t keen on attending college, but credits his high school guidance counselor for showing him the opportunities a college education presents.
“I’m very happy with my decision to go to college and attend UMass Dartmouth,” said Kunda “I’ve grown as a person, learned so much, and met so many great people over the last four years. The knowledge and experience you gain, and the network you create, make it all so worth it.”
Finding a home
“When I was looking at colleges, I was looking for a university with a mid-sized campus in a suburban area where I could receive a good education at an affordable cost. When I visited UMassD in the spring of 2018 with my mom, I really enjoyed the campus, its suburban location, the programs offered, and the fact that it was part of the University of Massachusetts system.”
If you happen to catch Kunda in his free time or on his way between classes, you’re more likely to be in a conversation with him than not.
“I love the community at UMassD, and I enjoy meeting new people around campus. I really value relationships and getting to know people,” said Kunda. “Between students, faculty, and staff, the whole campus has been so welcoming to me, and I’m very grateful for that. It’s been great to reconnect with people and meet new faces now that everyone’s back on campus this semester.”
Kunda, who started his undergraduate education undeclared on a major, credits this outgoing attitude with helping him find his major and career path.
“I spoke to some upperclassmen and faculty members in the Charlton College of Business (CCB) to pick their brain on different majors’ career paths and landed on management because its curriculum closely resembled the leadership responsibilities I was already involved with on campus that I really enjoyed,” said Kunda.
“CCB makes it very convenient to hold a dual-major or minor within the college, so I added a dual-major in marketing to expand my educational background and career opportunities. My favorite thing about CCB is our faculty and our staff. Everyone from Dean Williams to the peer mentors have always been super helpful and supportive.”
Three years later, Kunda has found much success with CCB’s curriculum across both his majors, holding a 3.89 grade point average.
“Upper-level business courses at CCB are very interactive and practical, which helps to truly understand the topic at hand,” said Kunda. “I feel that my collegiate experience has well-prepared me to enter the real world and I’m confident about my job prospects post-graduation.”
As much as he’s learned inside the classroom, Kunda has likewise gained invaluable experience in six different jobs and internships on- and off-campus during his time at UMass Dartmouth. This past summer, Kunda interned at State Street Global Advisors, one of the largest asset management firms in the world.
“I've enjoyed all my jobs on campus, particularly being a student ambassador for CCB, where I get to speak to prospective students about life at UMass Dartmouth,” said Kunda. “Interning at State Street was great practical experience for me, as I was able to apply lessons learned in the classroom to real-world projects that added value to a Fortune 500 company.
"As an IT Project Management Intern, I gathered weekly project inputs from 10 different team leads, prepared Excel dashboards and PowerPoint presentations, updated an inventory database, and organized agendas, minutes, and action items for bi-weekly technology oversight meetings of 12 different leaders within State Street.”
An active volunteer of the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement, Kunda has been a regular volunteer at local organizations such as Sharing the Harvest Community Farm, the New Bedford Boys and Girls Club, the Fall River YMCA, SouthCoast Serves, Allen's Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, and more.
Kunda got involved with the Leduc Center in his first week on campus, participating in UMassD’s 9/11 Day of Service at Sharing the Harvest Farm. The event gathered over 300 student-volunteers to harvest vegetables to be donated to local food pantries on the SouthCoast. Kunda loved the project so much, he went on to lead a group of volunteers on weekly trips to the farm.
“Food insecurity is an issue I’m particularly passionate about, so serving as the manager of Jeanne's Cupboard (formely Arnie's Cupboard) – our on-campus food pantry – for two years was particularly rewarding for me.”
Now a student organizer for the Leduc Center, Kunda leads a variety of community service projects on the SouthCoast, organizing and planning event logistics, recruiting student volunteers, serving as projects’ point of contact, and working with the center to brainstorm new initiatives and strategies.
“My favorite projects in the Leduc Center have been working to revive Carney Academy elementary school’s library that had been closed for over 10 years, and helping to organize the ‘Fashion for a Cause,’ a fashion show that raised money for a nonprofit organization in my home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Kunda.
A chosen leader
Because of this passion for his university and for giving back to his community, his natural leadership abilities, academic and professional success, Kunda was elected, and re-elected, by his peers to represent the student body on the UMass Board of Trustees; the governing board of the five-campus, 75,000-student UMass system.
On the board, he is a member of the Administration & Finance Committee and the Committee on Academic Affairs & Economic Development. As one of the two voting student trustees, Kunda is responsible for representing the student body’s voice on policies that range from tuition and fees, approval of capital budget, new construction projects, academic programs, and more.
“Serving on the Board of Trustees is an incredible honor and experience, as it allows me to apply a lot of the leadership lessons learned in the classroom to real-world, organizational decision-making,” said Kunda. “This helps sharpen my communication, collaboration, and critical-thinking skills in a professional environment, while adding a responsibility not many 20-year-olds receive.”
On campus at UMassD, Kunda works with student government, university departments, and administration on a range of matters pertaining to students. He also serves on the Campus Climate Steering Committee and the University Budget Review Board.
“We live in an ever-changing world, and the skill of adaptability is a very important one,” said Kunda. “I think being involved in so much and knowing so many people has me well-prepared to adapt and respond to challenges however and whenever they arrive.”
In free time
Despite the time his course load, internships, and volunteer activities add up to take, Kunda has made time to participate in eight different student organizations during his time at UMassD, and regularly attends various events on campus.
“Being involved in clubs and student organizations on campus has allowed me to find my community, and opened many doors for me,” said Kunda. “I’ve made a lot of friends and connections, been introduced to all kinds of new opportunities, discovered new passions, and developed valuable life skills. Above all, it’s helped me to learn about myself and grow as an individual.
“In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends off campus, going out to eat, and watching sports games on campus or on TV.”
Besides having a planner, Kunda’s biggest advice for students at UMass Dartmouth is to become comfortable asking for help.
“Between resident assistants, peer mentors, tutors, academic advisors, professors, and the student affairs staff, there are so many people on-campus that are here to help you,” said Kunda. “You don’t need to go through college alone. Use the resources available to you to make sure you get the most out of your experience.
“I ask for help all the time. It helps me truly understand topics in the classroom, the potential career paths available to me, or just how to do something the right way.”
Kunda is set to graduate in May 2022.