(From R – L): Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President with USP Alumni, Ms Afioga Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau and Reverend Denny Epati, and staff of USP, Professor Umar Mohammad and Mr Sia Matalavea during the Samoa Alumni Reception.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) hosted its second Samoa Alumni Reception at the Alafua Campus Fale in Apia, Samoa on 23 November 2016. The first USP Samoa Alumni event was in 2011.
The event was attended by prominent Samoan Alumni including the Members of Parliament, Chief Executive Officers of private and public enterprises, heads of educational institutions, community leaders and members of the Samoan Judiciary.
In his address, Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President welcomed everyone to the second Alumni event in Samoa, saying such gatherings are occasions to meet old friends and acquaintances; and an opportunity to reconnect, reminisce and rekindle relationships.
“It is wonderful to see so many of you present here this evening and this clearly shows how strongly you feel connected to the University and your interest in its achievements and progress,” he commented.
According to Professor Chandra, USP has over 46,000 alumni and by its 50th Anniversary it will be well in access of 50,000 - many of whom are prominent personalities and leaders in government and public institutions, private sectors, academia, and various other professional fields throughout the Pacific Region and across the globe.
He told the alumni, they were an example of what USP students can achieve with dedication and hard work, adding that he often reminded students that they have the capability to excel and achieve anything in the world.
“Today you are part of the human resource capital of Samoa, contributing immensely to its economy as well as to the region as a whole,” he remarked.
Professor Chandra said USP recognises the important role its graduates play in the region and as such, the University would like to stay in contact with them.
He urged them to join and register with the University’s Alumni Network.
Samoa, he noted, has produced many prominent alumni in academia, government and other areas and a number of USP alumni can be found working for Ministries, Educational Institutions, Commercial Banks, Community Organisations, Judiciary and other fields in Samoa and beyond.
Professor Chandra congratulated the alumni present at the event on their achievements and commitment to making Samoa and the region move forward.
He mentioned that there are several alumni initiatives implemented by USP’s Alumni Office including an alumni website, newsletter, alumni ID/benefits and merchandise, events and alumni groups.
Speaking on USP’s major achievements during the year, Professor Chandra said USP continues to work towards achieving higher levels of quality and is doing exceptionally well.
He proudly announced that USP now has a total of eighteen (18) programmes accredited and four (4) recognised internationally.
“While programme accreditations are important, USP is also working towards Institutional Accreditation through WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC),” he commented.
He also mentioned that USP created history when it registered two patents, granted by Intellectual Property of Australia - One for Eye Cane, an intelligent mobility device for the visually impaired and the other for Portable Wave-Solar Energy Harvesting Device, a simple self-contained system, which can be used in coastal areas with no electricity supply.
“Not only do such innovations lift the profile of the University, they have practical applications. These patents are evidence that USP has the capacity to promote development in the region,” he stressed.
With regards to significant progress on regional campuses development, particularly for the new Solomon Islands Campus, in which loan agreements had recently been signed, Professor Chandra said the University continues to engage with its member countries through regular consultations.
The alumni were further told that the University will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2018 and USP wants them to play an integral role in this milestone.
The 50th year celebrations he said will include engagement of all our member countries, our students, development partners, corporate organisations and alumni.
Professor Chandra concluded by saying that the alumni play a vital role in the growth of the University and the development of the region.
“USP is committed to producing quality graduates with outstanding leadership abilities, sense of purpose, intellectual capacity, and a commitment to the development of the region,” Professor Chandra added.
Alumni speaker, Ms Afioga Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuuau said she is always proud to be called a USP graduate.
“I feel I am an example of the kind of graduates USP produces. I worked hard to get to this stage so I would like to encourage all graduates to always aim higher. We can all make a difference in our societies,” she said.
Another Alumni speaker, Reverend Denny Epati also reflected on his time at USP saying he had great fun during his time as a student of the University.
“We were always hungry so we were always looking for food. I made great friends at USP and the skills I learnt help me to this day. For instance, I know what to do when a computer does not work properly. I learnt how to fix it at USP,” he stated.
He said at that time he did not know how useful all the learning was and thanked USP for preparing him for the future.
For 81-year old Anna Betham, who was part of the first cohort of Samoan graduates in 1973, studying at USP allowed her to experience and mingle with students from other cultures and backgrounds.
Ms Rosita Matalavea, the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Central Bank of Samoa, said her time at USP as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student was demanding but worth it.
Ms Matalavea was part of the first cohort of Samoan MBA graduates in 2007.
Ms Ruby Va’a, USP Campus Director said, “I am so happy that the alumni have turned out in large numbers to support this event and in particular I am happy that we have some from the 70s and 80s era”.
In his vote of thanks, Prof Umar Mohammed thanked the alumni for coming and reminded them that a great university is only great because of its students and that USP students are a fine example of that.
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