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“True learning continues up to the point that action comes forth”

Colin Stanley, former Master student of Computer Science and now Acting Dean at Namibia University-NUST, on his best memories of studying in Bolzano and his impressive career since then.

What is your current job position?
I have recently been appointed as the Acting Dean for the Faculty of Computing and Informatics at Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). I have been working at NUST for more than 12 years. I started as a Tutor, Junior Lecturer, Lecturer then Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning since 2017. I was always on study leave from NUST while busy with my studies at unibz.

Which degree course did you attend in Bolzano at unibz?
Laurea specialistica in Computer Science (MSc in Computer Science specialising in Software Engineering)

How did you find out about it and why did you choose us?
Well interestingly, my friend Eliazer Mbaeva and I were searching on the Internet for universities to pursue our master’s degree and we came across a very detailed curriculum in Software Engineering. We had no idea that this content was from unibz, after some few minutes of analysing we realised that the University was in Italy. We then said wow let us try to apply to this University, and we were further amazed by the quality of student service that unibz provided us from the first email to Ms Federica Cumer. She was very supportive until the day we landed in Bolzano.

What are your best memories of your study time and your professors?
What stood out at unibz is the continuous improvement of student services throughout my studies there, for example, we used to commute every morning from Brixen-Bressanone to Bolzano and stay the whole day on campus. During the day one would get exhausted and needed a place to take a quick nap, so in semester one of my studies, we used to take a nap just in front of the library. Surprisingly, the next semester we noticed that there were comfortable sofas placed in front of the library with some magazines to relax.
My best memories were also the inter-cultural experience from students all over the world and the good friendships that I established till today. What was particularly impressive is the follow up on my career development from the University which I have not experienced anywhere so far and cannot wait to implement the same at our Faculty of Computing and Informatics at NUST.

Which courses did impress you most?
Allow me to please share a bit about the courses. We were required to complete twenty courses in two years plus the dissertation, and it was not easy at all. All classes and professors were fantastic; I would like to highlight the following five in no particular order.
Programming Languages by Prof Gabriella Dodero and by Prof Andrea Alexander, I obtained A "cum laude" (special distinction). I enjoyed the freedom given to us to be creative.
Data Warehousing and Data Mining taught by Prof Johann Gamper and Prof Mouna Kacimi, which I also obtained full marks 30/30.
Mobile Services by Prof Francesco Ricci, I enjoyed his friendliness and that the course was not only focused on mobile development, but it covered a broad spectrum to satellite communication.
Theory of Computation, Prof Diego Calvanese. This course was the most challenging for me. I repeated three exams for this course! The first attempt, I did not understand almost anything what Prof Calvanese was talking about it was Greek to me. The second time, it started to make a bit of sense. The mistake I made in preparing for the exam I memorised past exam questions as most students do, thanks to Prof Calvanese he completely changed the exam questions that time and I failed again. The third attempt I passed very well and enjoyed the course too, the secret was I accepted that I was not ready to pass the course the first two attempts.
Software Process Management by Prof Giancarlo Succi, I liked the way he incorporated the industry experience in the course and invited guest lecturers from Fiat for example. 

What are the further steps in your career?
I always joke to my colleagues and friends when they asked me “Colin, why are you always dressed so smartly?” I usually jokingly reply that I dress like my next job and that could be the president of Namibia. 
Jokes aside, while academically I still have a long way to go, I recently submitted my PhD for examination at the University of Cape Town (UCT). I want to further my research interest, which is about embracing African epistemologies for co-designing indigenous knowledge safeguarding software tools with rural communities. My dream is to be a professor in a not so distant future. 

Now that you are in a position to motivate future students, what is the most important message to give to them?
For this answer, I will quote this phrase “true learning continues up to the point that action comes forth” by Xunzi. So, the secret is “learning to learn” in a way that your knowledge is not only kept in your head but also put into action and tried out in unprecedented areas, and this attitude towards studying always pays off. 

Namibia is like South Tyrol a place with a great variety of nature and is highly attractive for tourists – which places do you recommend visiting?
Namibia is a very diverse open space country with unique beauty in each region. I would recommend seeing the Namib Desert along the coastal towns (Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Hentiesbaai, Skeleton Coast Park, Sossusvlei, etc.) marrying with the Atlantic Coast of Namibia. The Desert and sea combination is breath-taking. Don’t forget to try sandboarding on the Namib Dunes it is an entirely different immersive experience as compared to your ice skiing in South Tyrol.
I also wholeheartedly recommend visiting Opuwo north-western Namibia towards Epupa Falls where the Ovahimba community resides. Travelling to Opuwo, it would be advisable to transit through the fascinating Etosha National Park you might be lucky and spot the four (Elephants, Lions, Black Rhinos, and Leopards) of Africa’s Big 5 game animals. 

(vic)