USP students with big dreams

(L-R) Bwareti Tekaai and Tewiiti Kabwabwara

Hundreds of students from around the region this week filled the Australia Pacific Lecture Theatre at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Laucala Campus, with much eagerness to further their studies.

Every year, USP conducts an orientation week for new and resuming students, involving school information sessions, transition skills workshops, campus tours, and many other activities.

Among the large crowd was 41-year-old Salome Vukaloto, who has resumed her studies at USP after 22 years, pursuing a Certificate in Information Technology.

The former Water Authority of Fiji employee said with the support of her husband, she decided to return to school after much deliberation.

“It just came to mind that it’s time for me to do it. In 2002, I was laid off [from WAF] so I stayed home. Then I took a caregiving course. But I’ve always wanted to pursue my dream of doing computing,” said Vukaloto.

The mother of three said she hopes to get a good job after the completion of her studies.

Bwareti Tekaai and Tewiiti Kabwabwara of Kiribati have been helping i-Kiribati students settle into campus life at USP.

Tekaai, 21, a third-year student doing a bachelor’s in economics and law, said: “I participated as a student helper [or buddy] for this year’s orientation week because I know these first-year i-Kiribati students will be missing their parents so I’m here for them.”

She adds: “My parents wanted me to do law and I wanted to take economics. Since my country is trying to survive economically, I thought of giving my programme a try by pursuing both my passion and my parents’ passion.”

Kabwabwara, 20, a second-year student doing a bachelor’s in education, majoring in economics and mathematics, shared that she hopes to become a secondary school teacher when she returns to her island home. 

“I want to help my people and serve the new generation. My programme is tough but with God, I know I can do it,” she said.

From Tonga, Mele Pau, Fisi’itotoa Mele Halaifonua, and Heimuli Likiafu are first-year students at USP.

Pau, 19, who is doing a bachelor’s in chemistry and biology, said she chose to study at USP because “unlike in Tonga, you get good exposure to people from different cultures”. She plans to become a nurse or a doctor in the future.

“I chose USP because it’s a very good university and the people are so friendly,” said Halaifonua, 20, who is enrolled in the Foundation programme. She also has dreams of becoming a medical officer.

Also taking foundation studies is 20-year-old Likiafu. He said: “Not only are USP’s programmes affordable, but it is one of the most well-known universities in the South Pacific.” He said he plans to become an engineer in the future, specialising in aeronautical engineering.