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Charles Sebuharara

Meet Charles Sebuharara, economics

By Terasa Yu

Coming to the United States was quite the dilemma for Charles Sebuharara, a visiting assistant professor of economics at Harpur College.

When he was given the opportunity to attend Binghamton University for his graduate studies, he was not sure about how to approach it. On one hand, he did not want to leave the life he had made for himself in his homeland of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the other hand, he wanted to increase his chances at further success.

“It was challenging because I had been out of school for several years,” Sebuharara, 58, said. “I was working and started a family, so when I decided to come, it was a very difficult decision to make.”

Sebuharara graduated from the University of Kinshasa with a degree in finance. He was working at the Central Bank of the Congo when he was recruited to study at Binghamton University. Although he was uncertain about accepting the offer at first, he ultimately came in 1989 with the encouragement of some friends.

“To be honest, it was not an easy process,” Sebuharara said. “When I went to class, it was like the end of the world.”

Due to his limited English, Sebuharara had a tough time with his courses, especially since he was working in an unfamiliar education system. Although his immediate family moved with him to Binghamton in support of his studies, Sebuharara still endured an overwhelming transition. “Every time after each class, I went back home and said, ‘Maybe we should pack up our stuff and go back.’”

However, as time passed, Sebuharara started enjoying his time at Binghamton University. The city itself became a “second home” for Sebuharara and his family. He also started teaching at the university as an adjunct lecturer in 1997, while he was still a student. After receiving his master’s and doctorate degrees in economics in 2006, Sebuharara worked exclusively as a full-time visiting assistant professor in the School of Management. In 2008, he left to work in Virginia and North Carolina, but returned to Binghamton University in the summer of 2014.

“I loved it (being at Binghamton University),” he said. “That’s why you see me back here (to teach).”

Sebuharara is hoping to stay at the university for as long as he can. In the fall, he taught Economics of Public Programs and Economics of Corporations at Harpur College. So far, he is content with his students.

“I’m pleased that the university has done a good job (selecting students),” he said. “We have good students, and having been away (teaching elsewhere), it gives me the opportunity to appreciate what we have here.”

As a professor, Sebuharara said he is always looking forward to students excelling in his classes. He hopes students can connect the material he teaches to any endeavors they may have.

“I like when I can see that they take away something from what I’m teaching,” he said.

Sebuharara enjoys engaging students in class activities. He understands that lecturing can lack excitement, so he would sometimes give them problems to solve in groups. He also knows that students should not solely rely on textbooks, and therefore, he uses current events as another alternative to teach the course material.

“I have the passion for this job,” he said. “I try to convey that. I hope (students) see the passion that I put in my work.”

Although Sebuharara has the title of a professor, he also learns a lot from his students. In class, he likes to conduct debates to find out their opinions on various issues. He is fascinated by how different experiences and backgrounds of students shape their viewpoints.

“I get (so many) different perspectives,” he said. “This is why I love this profession, and why I consider myself as an advanced student, always learning.”

Aside from teaching at Harpur College, Sebuharara is also involved with research at Binghamton University. His areas of interest are money demand and monetary policy, the role of credit in the economy and corporate financial policies.

As difficult as it was, Sebuharara is grateful to have studied at Binghamton University. It allowed him to experience and accomplish so much, he said.

“When I look back at where I came from to where I am today, that’s when I appreciate things in life,” he said.

Sebuharara hopes that others can acquire his optimistic view on life. To him, life is too precious to be wasted on pessimism.

“You don’t know what tomorrow is going to be like,” he said. “Appreciate what you have today.”

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Last Updated: 3/1/17