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Bernard (Buzi) M'kumbuzi

CCBC Graduate, American Sign Language, '23

Portrait photo of Bernard M’kumbuzi

Bernard M'kumbuzi found his passion for education through CCBC's Male Student Success Initiative and is now attending Towson University to pursue a bachelor's degree.

Bernard M’kumbuzi, or “Buzi” as he is known among friends, never gave college too much thought when he was younger. After graduating from high school, he joined the Army, knowing that he could return to school once he had a better idea of what he wanted to do for a career.

“I have always had a passion for working with children, but I really didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said M’kumbuzi. “I thought maybe I would become a pediatrician.”

Once he found CCBC, his path came into focus. M’kumbuzi joined the Male Student Success Initiative (MSSI), a program created to support and promote academic excellence for male students of color, where he received dedicated advising and mentorship. From there, he was accepted into Honors and the selective Mellon Scholars program.

“Having conversations about where I see myself in the next couple of years and what I am interested in really helped me a lot,” he recalled. “I started out pursuing ASL [American Sign Language] because of my brother. However, last summer, I did an internship with a school here in Baltimore and decided to pursue special education.”

I've learned to never be afraid to ask for help, especially with all of the resources that CCBC has to offer. This includes a community of trustworthy advisors and mentors who want to see students succeed, earn that degree they've dreamed of, and know that the sky's the limit.

M’kumbuzi’s brother lost his hearing in childhood due to meningitis. Since then, ASL has been a big part of his family’s life, and M’kumbuzi is happy that he can now turn those skills and passion into a career.

“I currently work with adults who are on the [autism] spectrum. I want to intertwine that experience and working with kids, and also utilize my ASL skills. So, pursuing special education is really a culmination of all of the things that I was very interested in doing.”

In addition to his academics, M’kumbuzi was incredibly active on campus. He traveled to New Orleans for an immersive program examining the impact of Hurricane Katrina, volunteered for several organizations around Baltimore, and remained active in the Army Reserves. He was also a member of the PTK National Honors Society and the African Student Union, served as a social media ambassador and was a speaker at college events and tour guide for prospective students.

“I also took advantage of the opportunity of coming back to school to join the ROTC program at Loyola University. That way I could commission and become an officer after graduation,” he said. “Loyola is the main campus for the battalion; however, they have sister schools where students can come from that school and participate in ROTC.”

It was a busy schedule, but M’kumbuzi remains incredibly grateful for the doors opened through his involvement with MSSI. He said that MSSI not only helped him with mentoring but also provided funds that helped him pay for tuition and books and created opportunities for social connections through organized events, trips and cultural experiences. MSSI also introduced him to the Honors program and Mellon Scholars program, a selective enrichment experience for humanities students in partnership with Johns Hopkins University.

“Being introduced to Honors was sort of a gateway for me to really get involved in the school,” he said. “It was a very integral part of my journey at CCBC. I’ve had multiple mentors within MSSI and the Honors program that I could just reach out to if I needed anything. It was really impactful to be a student at CCBC.”

M’kumbuzi graduated from CCBC in spring 2023 and is attending Towson University where he plans to complete a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education.