UC Davis Coursera student Theogene Semana poses in front of fountain in Bruxuels
Theogene Semana visits Brussels, Belgium, where his employer Vétérinaires Sans Frontières is headquartered. (Photo courtesy of Semana)

Online Education Opens Doors for Rwandan Father of Two

Theogene Semana is motivated by a desire to lead and inspire others. In his professional life as a regional human resources officer in Rwanda, he strives to be a driving force for positive change. At home with his family, he is a role model, instilling the importance of education and continuous learning for his daughters. This dedication to personal growth is what led him to UC Davis on Coursera’s Coaching Skills for Managers Specialization in 2020.  

“This course has significantly transformed my life,” said Semana, who enrolled so he could shape his career in the domain of leadership. “The practical knowledge gained from the course and the recognition it received from recruiters has been pivotal in opening doors and enabling me to achieve my goals. I can confidently say that it has made a lasting, positive impact on my life.”  

We reached out to Theogene Semana to learn more about the impact this program had on his career advancement and his personal life.  

What motivates you and drives your career aspirations? 

UC Davis Coursera student Theogene Semana poses next to tree
Semana says he's been fortunate to have encountered several influential individuals throughout his life who played a role in shaping his aspirations. (Photo courtesy of Semana)

I've always been passionate about making a positive impact and driving meaningful change. I believe that by continually enhancing my knowledge and expertise, I can better address the evolving challenges in the HR field and contribute to creating positive workplace environments. Additionally, my aspiration to take on managerial positions in the future stems from my eagerness to lead and inspire others, fostering growth not only in myself, but also in the teams I have the privilege to manage.  

Why did you enroll in the UC Davis Coaching Skills for Managers Specialization on Coursera?

I chose UC Davis' program because it aligned closely with my career aspirations. While I did consider other leadership courses and programs, UC Davis' program stood out due to its comprehensive content and its direct relevance to my professional goals. It offered a well-rounded curriculum that covered essential leadership skills and strategies that I believed would be directly applicable to my career advancement. The program's reputation for quality and the opportunity to learn from experienced instructors at UC Davis were also factors that influenced my decision.  

How did the program help you progress in your career? 

The program not only equipped me with the skills needed to compete for higher positions but also instilled in me a mindset of continuous learning and growth. This program was a significant catalyst in my career progression. After completing the Coaching Skills for Managers Specialization in April 2020, I transitioned from a training officer role at a small microfinance bank to a position as an HR assistant at the UN World Food Program.  

Over the course of two years in that role, I applied the coaching and leadership skills I had acquired to effectively support and manage HR functions. This experience ultimately led to my current position, and in January 2023, I successfully transitioned to the regional HR officer in charge of Great Lakes Africa with Vétérinaires Sans Frontières, where I oversee HR operations across five countries. This elevation to a higher-level position in just three years is undoubtedly attributed to the specialization acquired through the course and the credibility that Coursera certificates hold with employers.  

How has this program impacted your life?

Beyond the advancement in my career, the impact of this course on my personal life has been truly profound. Previously, I was living in a rented accommodation, but now, thanks to the opportunities and growth brought about by this course, I have been able to secure a residential house in the capital city Kigali.

Securing my own home has had a profound impact on the trajectory of my life. It has not only provided stability and security for my family, but has also had ripple effects on our overall well-being. With the burden of monthly rent eliminated, I've been able to allocate those funds towards investments and savings, paving the way for financial growth and stability. This, in turn, has allowed me to increase my income and allocate resources to provide a better education for my children, ensuring they have access to quality schooling and a brighter future.

UC Davis Coursera student Theogene Semana poses with his wife
Semana with his wife (Photo courtesy of Theogene Semana)
UC Davis Coursera student Theogene Semana with is daughter
Semana and one of his daughters in Kigali, where he was recently able to buy his own home. (Photo courtesy of Theogene Semana)

What does your success and achievements mean to you and those around?

To those close to me, seeing this success is not just a source of happiness but also a testament to the power of determination and perseverance. It serves as an inspiration to others in my family and community, demonstrating that with hard work and commitment, one can overcome challenges and achieve a better life. Their pride in my accomplishments further motivates me to continue striving for success and giving back to those I care about.  

Your experience in the UC Davis course has had a significant impact on your life. What have you learned about yourself since taking the course?

Since taking the UC Davis course, I've learned a great deal about myself. I've discovered a deeper sense of self-awareness and a heightened understanding of my strengths and areas for improvement as a leader and communicator. This course has also reinforced my belief in the power of continuous learning and personal growth. It has shown me that with the right knowledge and tools, I can adapt, evolve and become a more effective and empathetic leader. Additionally, I've realized that my passion for leadership and the positive impact I can have on individuals and organizations is a driving force in my life, and I am committed to nurturing and applying these skills to continue making a difference in both my professional and personal spheres.  

Looking ahead, what do you hope to accomplish in the next 5-10 years? 

UC Davis on Coursera

Whether you need to master a skill or you want a deeper dive into your subject, we offer several options to meet your needs. Take a single class or enroll in a full specialization of courses that progressively build your knowledge. Start learning today!

In the next 5-10 years, my primary goals are to excel as an international HR professional in a humanitarian context, leveraging my skills to make a positive impact on communities in need. Simultaneously, I aspire to establish and grow a side business to secure additional stable income while fostering personal and professional growth through entrepreneurship. These dual pursuits reflect my commitment to contributing to a better world while ensuring financial stability and continuous learning in my life journey.  

The positive experience and valuable knowledge I gained from this course have solidified my confidence in the quality of UC Davis' offerings. As I continue to pursue my professional and personal growth, I believe that UC Davis' courses will continue to provide relevant and valuable insights and skills that align with my goals.

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