SALISBURY, N.C. – When Tahabyona “Tabi” Kamugisha came to the United States in July 2019 from Tanzania, one of his first priorities was to learn English. Whatever was to come in America, he knew that speaking and understanding the language would make his journey easier and open new doors.

Although he enjoyed a good life in Tanzania working on his family’s poultry farm, Kamugisha came to live in the United States with his American wife, who is from North Carolina. His brother, who lives in China Grove, introduced him to the programs available at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Once he discovered the College’s English Language Learner (ELL) program, he also made connections that steered him toward his high school equivalency diploma and training opportunities for a lucrative career.

Kamugisha quickly completed the English Language Learner program, which Rowan-Cabarrus offers free of charge. The program gives students of different ages and backgrounds the opportunity to participate more fully in American society and to achieve their academic potential in learning environments where instruction is delivered largely or entirely in English. Classes help students gain skills in reading, listening, writing and speaking English.

After completing the ELL program, Kamugisha was excited about the possibilities for continued education and decided to dive right in to earn his high school equivalency/GED diploma.

“That was the best decision I ever made,” he said. “I met the best teachers – people you’d like to be taught by all day. The College has the best teachers and a good environment.”

The Rowan-Cabarrus Adult Education and Literacy program offers adult basic education programs to eligible adults who want to earn a high school equivalency diploma. The program currently serves more than 160 students, focusing on math, science, social studies, and reading/language arts. Students may take courses either online as a self-paced, 24/7 learning opportunity or virtually with an instructor teaching via Zoom.

“I gained a lot of confidence through the program, found new friends, and changed my life, because now I can continue my education,” Kamugisha said. “My journey has not been easy, as my beloved mother, Dorothea Kamugisha, passed away before I graduated. But it has been worthwhile. With advice from instructor Mary Jane Hartley, I moved to the night class until I finished. I thank God that I didn’t quit.”

“The GED program helped me to achieve my goals,” continued Kamugisha, who officially graduated on Sept. 9, 2021. “If you have ever wanted to go back to school, this is the time, and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is there to help you like they did me.”

The Rowan-Cabarrus High School Equivalency/GED program is designed for adult students who test above a ninth-grade level in math and reading but have not obtained a high school diploma. The program prepares students to successfully pass an approved High School Equivalency Assessment (HSEA) to earn their high school equivalency diploma, covering social studies, science, literature, math and writing skills. An Adult Basic Skills program is available to prepare adult students who test below a ninth-grade level in math or reading to gain the skills to pursue their high school equivalency diploma.

Now that he speaks and understands English and has his GED behind him, Kamugisha is looking forward to a career in manufacturing after he completes short-term training through the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute (NCMI).

The NCMI prepares students for employment with nearly 50 local manufacturer partners in just eight weeks, with tuition covered by scholarship. Graduates with little to no experience can transition into secure jobs with good pay and benefits.

NCMI education and training partners include Rowan and Cabarrus counties, local economic development authorities, the Centralina Workforce Development Board, Mitchell Community College and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

“It is a privilege to be able to offer educational opportunities that open doors for students like Tabi Kamugisha,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “If you are looking to improve your life, check out all that Rowan-Cabarrus has to offer. Whether you are considering a new career, a new life skill, continuing education for an existing job, or classes that will transfer to a four-year college or university, we offer pathways that lead to a brighter future.”

Anyone interested in pursuing a high school equivalency/GED may reach out to Darrell Graham at or 704-216-3785, Mary Jane Hartley at or 704-216-3507, or Aaron McNeill at or 704-216-7192. More information about the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute is available at or by emailing Donna Ludwig at