Interview with Kyagaba David Lwanga, Class of 2016



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Oral history interview with Illinois State University alum Kyagaba David Lwanga, Class of 2016. The interview was conducted on March 4, 2024 by Jack Panozzo and Will Short, then students in Dr. Reecia Orzeck’s class Geography 375: Qualitative Research Design and Methods of Human Geography.

Lwanga shares his academic journey, which began with him pursuing a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He later earned an associate's degree in chemistry at Prairie State College, then transferred to ISU with an aim of majoring in renewable energy applications. Influenced by a conversation with Jill Thomas, he transitioned into the Geography Department, focusing on environmental courses.

Lwanga described the influence of various professors and courses on his education, including participating in a water sampling project led by Dr. Eric Peterson. He also worked at Sherwin Williams on College Avenue, which he found fulfilling and well-paying, allowing him to balance work with his studies.

Lwanga chose to intern at FEMA as part of his geography degree, where he worked extensively with GIS (geographic information systems) to create maps. This period coincided with the Republican National Convention and the Flint water crisis, providing him with significant learning experiences about emergency management and the critical role of accurate data.

Lwanga reflects on the practical applications of GIS in his career, highlighting the gap between academic learning and real-world challenges, such as dealing with incomplete data from engineers. He also discusses an experience teaching at Benedictine University and starting a GIS consulting company aimed at helping smaller organizations, although this venture paused due to time constraints after the birth of his first child.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; selecting geography as a major at ISU: 00:00-01:40
  • Living situation: 01:40-05:12
  • High school and community college experience; transferring to ISU: 05:12-11:07
  • Water sampling project: 11:07-14:41
  • Job at Sherwin Williams: 14:41-18:37
  • Work and school balance: 18:37-20:42
  • Favorite classes and professors: 20:42-23:50
  • Academic performance: 23:50-25:50
  • Being a non-traditional student: 25:50-28:06
  • Degree to which geography program prepared Lwanga for career opportunities: 28:06-30:24
  • Internship at FEMA: 30:24-34:36
  • Starting a consulting company: 34:36-36:16
  • Teaching at Benedictine University: 36:16-37:46
  • Projections and GIS applications in Lwanga’s career: 37:46-41:11
  • Feeling support in his identity as an ISU student: 41:11-45:02
  • Staying involved at ISU post-graduation: 45:02-47:26
  • Conclusion: 47:26-50:21

Interview with Kyagaba David Lwanga, Class of 2016