Years of hard work came to fruition last week after more than 1000 students received their certificates at the University of the South Pacific graduation ceremony in Suva, with 65% of them women.
“As you step out of USP and into the workforce, never lose sight of the resilient character that brought you to this graduation ceremony,” Prof. Pal Ahluwalia told graduates on Friday. “If you keep that same mindset, I’m confident that you can do anything. All of us here are witnesses to your resilience. Never settle for second best because you can accomplish anything in the paths you choose that will lead to fulfilment and continued success.”
Tongan graduate Ana Manu Takau, from the island of Vava’u, hopes to further contribute to the Kingdom’s legal sector. She graduated with a Bachelor of Law and is pursuing a Professional Diploma in Legal Practice (PDLP) at USP. “I plan to return and work in my country. When I came to Fiji, I realised Tonga is behind in some legal areas like Family Law. Tonga still has separate legislations that deal with issues such as divorce, adoption, to name a few. So I hope to contribute to this in some ways,” she said.
Hoping to address the teaching shortage at South Malekula Secondary School in Vanuatu is Auken Rormassing. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Certificate in Education. “I teach English full-time at SMSS for Year 7 to Year 10. We have extra classes [to help our students reach the] senior level because we don’t have [many teachers]. So I take this as a challenge to return home and serve the interests of my people. Hopefully, by next year, the school will offer a senior level and I hope to be the first to teach in that level,” he said.
Tautalo Iese from Tuvalu who is part of the Pacific Centre for Environmental and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) graduated with a Master of Climate Change. She aims to “help my people who are especially in the outer islands to become resilient during times of climate crisis.” Tautalo said Tuvaluans in outer islands don’t have the immediate help they need as they are far from the capital of Funafuti “so that’s why I’m really passionate about community work.”
Meanwhile, the Public and Media Relations Officer of the Kiribati Police Service, Tiito Tamoaieta Kaeka, said the knowledge he has attained at USP will help him “make announcements that will be more effective in promoting peace and security in Kiribati.” Kaeka graduated with a Post-Graduate Diploma in Linguistics. “In the region, we have different ways on how we use language, in a community, in church and in schools. So as a linguist, you would know the type of words to use that will suit the environment or the situation you’re in.” Kaeka said his academic achievement was made possible because of Kiribati’s Commissioner of Police, Ioeru Tokantetaake, “who has supported me in many ways.”