Bringing positive change a passion for Dr. Jacqueline Musabende

Mount Royal business faculty member receives Black Achievement Award

Nadia MoharibMount Royal University | Posted: August 15, 2023

Dr. Jacqueline Musabende poses for a photo outside the Riddell Library & Learning Centre - Calgary.

Dr. Jacqueline Musabende is a recipient of a 2023 Calgary Black Achievement Award, in the category of Education.

Dr. Jacqueline Musabende’s garden is a colourful mix of roses, towering Hollyhocks, lots of lilies and climbing Clematis.

And at least one person noticed all the hard work the Mount Royal University (MRU) associate professor put in to make it happen with a neighbour recently leaving a postcard to thank her for the lovely roadside attraction.

“I never put my garden together to make people happy,” says Musabende who teaches International Business in MRU’s Bissett School of Business. “That was not my purpose. I just like gardening.”

Musabende, who is a recipient of a 2023 Calgary Black Achievement Award, sees the impact of her hobby on others as a reminder that what we do matters.

She sees that positive feedback as akin to how she feels about teaching — an opportunity to share and, at its best, to make an impression on others.

“The whole purpose in life is (to) bring positive change in the world,” she says. “Teaching is a contribution to changing the world.”

Musabende’s love of teaching goes back to growing up in Rwanda and being exposed through her Christian community to scholars and people from all over the world who had earned doctorates.

She was drawn to those who had acquired great knowledge coupled with a platform and passion to share with others. She was enthralled by seeing an engaged audience soak it all in.

“In my mind, I thought I will never be a complete person without a PhD, “ she says.

Musabende knew “transfer of knowledge to other people,” was something she wanted to do, too. She earned a BBA - with a double major in Accounting and Information Technology, an MSc in Geographical and Spatial Information Systems and received her PhD in International Business.

Her pursuit of higher education took her from Rwanda to Paris, France where she studied while working as a bank project manager. When she was working on her doctorate, her supervisor suggested she pursue teaching, pushing her onto the path to academia.

For Musabende, much of being a teacher comes down to connections she builds with students and the bridges with others.Working at MRU since 2017, she makes that a priority.

Lessons typically start in the classroom with theoretical groundwork but eventually make their way out into the world.

“I believe my students can bring real value to someone or the community,” she says. “I have this passion for teaching and to see me as inspiring my students (by) thinking of new ways of teaching.”

Giving students real-world cases or community-based projects means they can make meaningful contributions beyond the classroom. She recently tasked students to develop marketing strategies for businesses in Columbia — a challenge made more complicated when the financial statements arrived in Spanish.

“They speak Spanish and we don’t,” she says. “It could have gone really, really wrong.”

It didn’t.

“We had a presentation and the people in Columbia were crying and explaining how students brought them joy,” Musabende says. “That’s probably the best feedback that a teacher can get.”

The Calgary Black Achievement  Awards showcase significant contributions to the growth and vibrancy of this city while celebrating contributions and achievements of Black professionals, entrepreneurs and youth in and around Calgary.

Winners were selected based on personal and professional accomplishments, community involvement, exemplary leadership abilities and advancement of Black narratives.Musabende’s award, sponsored by Bow Valley College, recognizes a Black educator whose education practice makes a positive impact in the lives of students or Black youth in the community.



Musabende is honoured. Dr. Chad London, MRU provost and vice-president, academic, isn’t surprised.

“Dr. Jacqueline Musabende is an exceptional champion for equity, diversity and inclusion at Mount Royal and across the broader community,” London says. “Through her teaching excellence, advocacy, and active involvement in important initiatives across campus, Jacqueline is making a positive difference for Black students and inspiring all members of the Mount Royal community to create positive change. We are grateful to Jacqueline for her passion and commitment to fostering a campus environment where everyone feels valued, supported, and that they belong.”

Musabende sees the award as a meaningful springboard to do more.

“For me, this award is a powerful platform,” she says. “For Black people, it’s very important. We need representation, we need empowerment, we need recognition.”

She believes the achievement makes an important statement for all equity-deserving groups and anyone being marginalized, essentially saying “I am not invisible.”

It also feeds her need to be a valuable role model.

“It’s very important for me to say, ‘Yes, keep going. You are seen and you are recognized,’” she says. “I was young like you and look what I have done.”

Beyond her teaching and research, Musabende has extensive hands-on experience and worked for organizations like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the African Development Bank.

She volunteered with a Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association mentorship program and immersed herself in several campus roles.

She is a member of the Board of Governors of Mount Royal University and the Board Chair of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Decolonization of ANSER Canada (Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research). She also co-chairs the Joint Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee at MRU and is President of the BIPOC Support Network.

“I take it very seriously,” she says. “When we do advocacy it’s not about you and it’s going to have an impact on other people.”

She says creating a strong EDI strategic plan, by “including EDI in everything we do, mostly in hiring,” is a priority right now along with making anti-racism “mainstream” in daily life. And like with everything, students will share what they have learned with others.

“I care about my research and going to conferences for development so I can bring it back to my students. I believe I cannot teach things that I do not have,” she says. “As students learn in an environment that is safe and inclusive, they will take those values out into the world.”

Read more about International Business at Mount Royal.