As a C.V. McClurg Scholarship recipient, Happyson Kaunda ’24 had already set himself up for the full Florida Southern College experience.
McClurg Scholarships are given to students based on their academic promise, leadership potential, character, and future goals. Kaunda stood out among a wide field of candidates competing for the full four-year tuition and fees that the McClurg Scholarship provides.
Nearly three years into his studies at FSC, Kaunda, who is originally from Zambia, is proving the selection committee’s faith in his promise has been well worth it.
“I visited FSC for Scholars Weekend, which was an awesome experience where I got an accurate representation of what being a Florida Southern student feels like,” said Kaunda, who is majoring in finance with a minor in computer science. “The application process was like working towards a goal. I was given all the support I could ask for from my admissions counselor. As expected, there are many cultural differences which makes the experience fun to explore, I’ve really been able to grow in my time management skills and have been able to make improvements in my daily life. The friends I’ve made so far have made the transition easier than I thought it would be.”
Not only has Kaunda enriched his own life through Florida Southern’s experiential educational experiences, but he is using the knowledge he is accumulating to try and help his home country.
TICKET TO RIDE
According to Kaunda, nearly 12,000 customers enter and leave the capital city of Lusaka’s bus terminal every day. Most of those using the bus are also riding it more than once a day as it is one of the most common means of travel in the African nation.
Over a year that total comes to 4,380,000 potential users that have to navigate Zambia’s paper ticketing system for bus travel.
Kaunda and his business partners saw that an easier method was needed to keep track of ticketing, and together they helped launch Tafika Tickets, an online-based bus ticket purchasing app that as of January of 2023 has been downloaded more than 5,000 times.
Users of the app can purchase tickets ahead of time and do not have to worry about losing their paper tickets. The app also tracks customer use giving important data to bus companies about who is using their service and at what time. Currently Tafika Tickets is operating out of Lusaka, targeting its population of more than 2 million, with trips tracked across the country.
Expansion to every city in Zambia is the goal. Zambia has a total population 19.47 million, with an estimated 450,000 bus trips taken every day. The market for Tafika Tickets is there, which is why Kaunda took the Fall 2022 semester off to work on the app.
“We spent the last four months of 2022 setting the company up so that we have a fully-functional application,” Kaunda said. “This is the first one in Zambia for bus travel. They were excited to change travel as a whole. We worked with the Ministry of Science and Technology, and we pitched it to the government. They have endorsed it and supported it.”
Kaunda’s partners include his friend Thawanda Malambo (CEO), who is currently a senior at Tufts University in suburban Boston, and his older brother Haggai (lead developer), who studied at the University of California at Berkeley.
Kaunda had experience working with Zambia’s government agencies as his father (Happyson Kaunda Sr.) was mayor of his home city of Luanshya. Kaunda also interned at the Zambia Institute for Sustainable Development (ZISD).
It was Haggai’s path to UC-Berkeley that helped start Happyson on his journey that would ultimately lead him to Florida Southern.
Kaunda, who prepared for college while attending the ZISD, wanted a school with small class sizes and one that had a great international scholarship.
“The idea of studying abroad was inspired by my older brother,” the younger brother said. “I wanted to experience (what he was experiencing). I started looking at different schools, and got connected with Florida Southern. I applied to other places, but ended up coming here because it was the best opportunity. I get so much individual attention, and that’s true for every student. You don’t feel like a number, you feel like a person. Every interaction feels like it’s tailored toward me and that is extremely beneficial.”
The McClurg Scholarship and Florida Southern were perfect for him so he applied. As a result of working with his admissions counselor and his visit during Scholar’s Weekend, Kaunda found his home for education.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Kaunda’s work toward making Tafika Tickets a success is his ultimate goal, but while his education continues he is helping students currently on campus and those that could be next.
As a Resident Advisor for Lake Hollingsworth Apartments, Kaunda is a resource for current students. In his role as an intern for Florida Southern’s admissions department, he is also getting a chance to welcome and advise future students.
It’s a role that Kelly Freeman, Florida Southern’s Assistant Director of Admissions Visits and Events Coordinator, says Kaunda is well suited.
“He’s a wonderful addition to our team,” Freeman said. “He provides a unique student perspective and is a hard working, high achieving student. He led our Counselors on Duty for our touring families, selling FSC on 20-minute presentations. He is one of the best ones we have. Families would leave applauding after he would do his presentations. He told me his favorite part is when he gets to meet with families. Creating interpersonal relationships and sharing his enthusiasm … that is what has made him successful.
“He can speak really well to the fact you can be successful at FSC as an international student. It is going to be scary coming here, but he can speak to how successful and supportive the process here at FSC is. We have things in place for international students to be successful. It is different for international students, but when they see such a successful student it makes it easier. We’re really appreciative of having him on the team.”
Ultimately, as Kaunda gets ready to start his senior year later this Fall, the education he is getting at Florida Southern will be used to help make things easier for his home country of Zambia.
Kaunda recalls the essay he wrote when he applied for the McClurg Scholarship.
“I remember when I was applying … it prompted me to write an essay about how I would want to use my education. I was hoping to one day use it to impact my community, my home country. I knew it was a dream of mine, but I didn’t figure out how to do it until now. I’m excited to work toward it. I didn’t realize it could be so close to happening. There’s a lot for me to do, but honestly it is just humbling being able to do something good.”