Meet Associate Professor of Counselor Education John Kiweewa, PhD, LMHC

Meet Associate Professor of Counselor Education John Kiweewa, PhD, LMHC

Photo of Dr. Kiweewa

John Kiweewa, PhD, LMHC

An African-born scholar, Dr. Kiweewa has done extensive research in Uganda and believes deeply in the Jesuit mission of helping students become social justice agents to impact individuals and communities.

Welcome to Fairfield! Could you share a little about your background?

I grew up in Uganda which is west of Kenya and North of Tanzania. One of my undergraduate mentors at Makerere University in Uganda who was a visiting professor was influential in my decision to move to the United States where I started working and studying at the University of Scranton. It was very important to me that Scranton was a Jesuit school. Uganda is a very Catholic country and, having been to Catholic schools throughout my early education, I know quite a bit about the orders in the Church. I admire the Jesuits for their focus on academics and spirituality.

During my time at Scranton, I completed two master’s degrees, one in theology and one in community counseling. I then moved to Syracuse to attend Syracuse University for my doctoral studies in the School of Education. While at Syracuse I added another master’s degree in international relations. I graduated in 2010 and obtained a full-time teaching position in Rochester, New York at St. John Fisher College. There I spent twelve years teaching, first as an assistant professor, and then as a tenured associate professor in the clinical mental health counseling program.

What influenced you to pursue a career at Fairfield?

During my time at Syracuse, I worked with Drs. Harold Hackney and Janine Bernard who, before working at Syracuse, were instrumental in founding the counselor education program at Fairfield. They spoke very highly of Fairfield’s program and the Jesuit mission, and how the program emphasizes creating social justice agents to impact individuals and communities. When I learned that the School of Education and Human Development’s program is the first CACREP-accredited counselor education program in Connecticut I became even more interested in Fairfield.

What are your research areas of interest?

I have done extensive research studying the community-rooted responses to the psychosocial impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa. In 2016 I was awarded a fellowship from the Carnegie Foundation, the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship, a scholar fellowship program for educational projects at African higher education institutions. Through the fellowship, I went to Makerere University School of Psychology in Uganda where I mentored graduate students and junior faculty members conducting research. I currently have several articles out for review, two that were recently approved: “Culturally adapting a mindfulness and acceptance-based intervention to support adherence to Anti-Retroviral Therapy among adolescents with HIV in Uganda” and “Predictors of delayed Anti-Retroviral Therapy initiation among adults referred for HIV treatment in Uganda: A cross-sectional study.”

One of my focuses is to develop relationships between counselors and other professionals in the medical field in Uganda and to develop behavioral health models. I am working with a group of professors, students, and graduate students in Uganda, the U.S., and the U.K. on this work. I am also focused on school counseling as a profession in Uganda. Currently, school counseling is not recognized as a profession. Even though there are regulations that require school counselors in Ugandan schools, few schools have them. More training for students is needed in this area and I am trying to develop programs and collaborate to redesign the curriculum.

I have also done original research in the field of group dynamics. I come from a society where group dynamics is primary, and group dynamics is one of the eight core areas in counseling.

How do you enjoy spending your time outside of the classroom?

My biggest pastime is sports. I play football (soccer) and Arsenal is my team. They’re at the top of their league right now which is really exciting. I have my wife, Rhona Serwanga, and two sons here with me, one of whom plays American Football for the Fairfield Giants. I also have three adopted boys living in Uganda and I am in the process of trying to bring them to the U.S. I love to travel and have enjoyed exploring Fairfield. I am very grateful for my colleagues who have extended themselves to help me get oriented in a new place.

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