Amos Kungu is originally from Nairobi, Kenya, but his information technology career took him to more than two dozen countries around the world — including the United Arab Emirates, where he and his wife lived for three years with their three young daughters.
Life in Dubai wasn’t conducive to raising a young family, they decided, so in 2016 they immigrated to the United States. Resettled in Norwood, Massachusetts, Kungu soon landed a business system analyst job at 4G Clinical, a startup based in Wellesley, Massachusetts, that makes clinical trial software for pharmaceutical companies.
While all that change would have been enough for some, Kungu was just getting started.
“I’ve always wanted to go into business — my end goal is to have my own startup — but I didn’t have the business skills,” he says.
So he researched online business degrees and discovered that UMass Lowell and the Manning School of Business had exactly what he wanted.
Four years later, he is graduating from UML with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and continuing on for a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship through the bachelor’s-to-master’s option.
“It hasn’t been easy the last four years juggling work and family — and last year, the pandemic — but UMass Lowell has been really supportive,” says Kungu, who likens working full-time at a startup while in school to having a supplemental textbook for his courses.
“I can relate whatever I’m studying to whatever I’m experiencing with the company. It’s been very enriching to share all these experiences,” he says. “But finding time to study during the week was challenging. I would spend the weekend catching up with reading and assignments, and my youngest would always complain that I don’t have time to spend with her.”
Kungu’s oldest daughter just finished her sophomore year at Emerson College.
“Being in school at the same time has been really interesting,” he says. “It’s fun comparing notes.”
As an online student, Kungu says he made a point to become involved in as many activities as he could. He was recently inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, where he has been able to network virtually with students through his work on the communications committee.
He also participated in the Manning School’s Global Entrepreneurship Exchange (GE2) program, which brings together students from around the world to collaborate on innovative business solutions.
In a pitch competition during GE2’s virtual summer 2020 program, Kungu’s team won the health care category with its idea for a self-disinfecting, dual-layer surgical glove that is reusable and biodegradable. Kungu continued with the idea last fall and won GE2’s 10K Global Venture Plan Competition.
He credits the support of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation faculty Ashwin Mehta and Yi Yang for “really helping me figure out what I need” to take the next steps.
“I’m hoping I’ll have something in the next couple of years,” he says.
Spoken like a true entrepreneur.