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Tonga graduate relives moment of struggle

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Graduate speaker Ofa Taukolo delivers his speech at the Tonga Graduation ceremony.

Mr. Ofa Taukolo, a new graduate from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Tonga Campus relayed how his quest for education was met by people who believed in him, some of who are academics and former staff of USP.

Speaking on behalf of the graduates during the Tonga graduation ceremony on 30 September 2016, Mr Taukolo, who was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in History and Geography, said his journey was long, difficult, and full of uncertainties.

Mr Taukolo explained how he twice failed the Form 6 national examination at Tonga College and was intending to give it another try when Dr Ana Koloto, the former Director of USP Tonga Campus, heard about his plight and persuaded an aunt of his to enroll him in the bridging course at USP, at the Preliminary Level in 2010.

“I successfully completed that programme in one year and it was due to the selfless and untiring efforts of the late Sela Kalala Havea, who was then, coordinator of the Tonga Campus, Bridging, Community, and Informal Education Programme,” he recalled.

Despite the fact that he could not write proper English, Havea made him believe in himself and that he was capable of doing even better.

“In fact, all my tutors at that level went out of their way to give me extra tuition,” he relayed.

Mr Taukolo started on the Social Science Foundation programme the following year, successfully completed it, and then later began his degree programme.

In the second semester of 2014 he had completed all the courses that he could take in Tonga and then travelled to Fiji in November to undertake the nine (9) remaining courses to complete his degree. This, he managed to successfully complete as well.

“My educational journey was full of challenges, coming from the kind of foundation I had at secondary level. But with my tutor’s and lecturer’s kind assistance, I gained self-confidence and self-esteem and an unwavering belief that I could do it,” he noted.

To the graduates he said, “We will soon be joining the big world out there, with its even greater challenges.”

Mr Taukolo urged them to use the values they had learnt at University to support and transform them as they strive to build a better future for themselves, their families, their communities and the nation.

A total of 99 students graduated from the Tonga campus.

This news item was published on 5 Oct 2016 04:36:31 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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