North Arkansas College and community honors student who drowned in Buffalo River

Published: Jul. 2, 2019 at 2:22 PM CDT
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Allen Buberwa was a 22-year-old student from Tanzania, and had just finished up with his final exams at North Arkansas College in Harrison.

"You know it's a lot of work, but you know after a while you kind of want to take a breather and understand that you can let loose and relax, and that's what happened," said Yassin Mbugi, one of Allen's friends.

So Buberwa along with some other friends went to the Buffalo National River in May.

"And unfortunately he slipped on the river and things ended up taking a turn for the worst," Mbugi said.

People from all over Boone County came to the college to remember him.

"It meant a lot for us to honor this student," said Sarah Newman, a board member with the college.

Now the college is going a step further by planting a tree for Buberwa, and a plaque with his name on it in the shape of his home country, Africa.

"We're at a college that doesn't just care about statistics but also cares about its people, and that's what it means. It means a lot to us," Mbugi said.

"These are more than students. Every one of them have a story. And they've got brothers, and sisters, and moms, and dads who love them. And we want to be part of that structure," said Dr. Randy Esters, the North Arkansas College president.

And that tree will be around for years to come.

Allen's friends said he was a happy guy.

"Allen was a fun person. Don't let anybody fool you. He was the most live. He was never a sad person," Mbugi said.

And Buberwa would've wanted others to be happy too.

"It's something that's God's plan. No human being can take out what God has planned for any one of us," Mbugi said.

The college president said they will plant a tree from here on out to honor any current student who passes. The plaque will be in the shape of the country, or state, that student is from.