Cumberland University


Eckton Chinyanga: Finding a Second Home

Rick Brown

Eckton Chinyanga is a busy man. A thriving Business major performing for Cumberland Choir and the men’s soccer team, the Malawian-born Chinyanga is rarely off-task. But he always has time to speak about his dual passions: accounting and soccer.

“I love accounting, and I love math. I love to be able to be a steward of people’s property,” said Chinyanga. “And I love soccer; that’s my area. I’ve played it for seventeen years.”

Chinyanga has utilized both those passions at Cumberland University, where he began as a Business major with a concentration in Accounting in August 2009. A member of Phi Beta Lambda and the International Students Organization, Chinyanga is a fixture of Cumberland’s campus community.

It is a position familiar to the gregarious Chinyanga, who hails from a country dedicated to togetherness.

“I’m from Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi,” explained Chinyanga. “I always tell people that where I come from, people live as a community, they work as a community, and they spend time as a community.”

Chinyanga has found a second community at Cumberland University. Having been accepted as a student in 2009, the future accountant traveled to the United States knowing almost no one. However, with the aid of Mrs. Pace Pope, Cumberland’s Coordinator of International Student Admissions, Chinyanga was able to adapt quickly, finding a new house, a new job, and—in time—a new campus home.

“It’s hard to come to a new country, to a new continent, to a new culture. But we survived because Cumberland helped us from every angle,” said Chinyanga.

In months, through organizations, invocations, and classes, Chinyanga came to know almost every student, faculty, and staff member on campus. Receiving guidance from his advisor Dr. Mary Lewis Haley, he also became rapidly familiar with Cumberland’s curriculum.

With that support, Chinyanga has thrived. In the two years since he arrived, Chinyanga has received Deans’ List numerous times, been recognized in the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges, and been the first recipient of Cumberland’s scholarship for international students. He has also become a mentor to his teammates in Cumberland’s Men’s Soccer Team, serving as a student training manager.

 Whether on or off the field, however, Chinyanga attributes his success to his positive attitude, one he encourages others to share.

“I have a positive mind in everything, even when I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out,” said Chinyanga, smiling. “I want people to have that positive mind so they can always come back. You just give it all you have. You think about what you’re doing, and you don’t give up.”

The driven Business major put that philosophy into practice when he became president of Cumberland’s International Students Organization. When Chinyanga joined the club in 2010, it included a total of three members. With the help of Pace Pope, however, Chinyanga sought out international students all over campus in a dedicated campaign.

The effort paid off: now in 2011, the International Students Organization has more than fifteen members and new leadership, due in large part to Chinyanga’s planning.

It will likely be the first business plan of many for the future accountant. After graduation, Chinyanga hopes to pursue an MBA and become a Certified Public Accountant. Then, he said, he wants to return to Malawi, where he wants to reach out to the community.

“Not only do we need learned people in Malawi to develop the nation, but we also need people who can help others to learn,” said Chinyanga. “Some people in Malawi used their resources to help me use my skills fully to advance, and because of that, I feel responsible for helping others to do the same.”

It is an obligation the future accountant bears gladly.