Director Development, Marketing, Communications and Alumni, Mr Jaindra Karan, during his address at the AAPS awards lunch.
Forty four (44) Australia Awards Pacific Scholarship (AAPS) students from The University of the South Pacific (USP) attended an end-of-semester awards lunch on 31 October 2017 at USP’s Laucala Campus in Suva.
The students are from Tonga (11), Kiribati (10), Samoa (7), Solomon Islands (6), Tuvalu (4), Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) (3), Republic of Marshall Islands (2) and Vanuatu (1) and varying disciplines from Undergraduate to Masters qualifications.
Dubbing AAPS as the ‘best’ scholarship, Mr Jaindra Karan, Director Development, Marketing, Communications and Alumni (DMCA) said that the awardees should be grateful to the Australian Government for providing such assistance for the development of education in the Pacific.
Each year USP rewards AAPS students who have obtained the highest GPA. Students, Mr Karan said have found this motivating and trying to get the highest GPA has been quite competitive for them.
This year, five students scoopedspecial awards for their outstanding achievement including two (2) from Samoa, two (2) from Tonga and one (1) from Kiribati. These students are Tevita Fifita, Leone Penaia, Mona Taumoefolau, Luisa Ah Yen, and Taoba Mwemwenikeaki.
Mr Karan informed the guests present at the lunch that earlier this year, two (2) AAPS students were awarded gold medals. One of them, a Tongan national, Petina Ulakai was awarded three (3) gold medals as the Most Outstanding Bachelor of Education graduate in Faculty of Arts, Law and Education, Most Outstanding graduate with a major in Education and Most Outstanding Graduate in Literature and Language.
Another student, Anthony Maelesi from Solomon Islands received the Gold Medal and Prize for the most outstanding graduate majoring in Sociology.
Over the years, Mr Karan has been encouraging AAPS students to aim for gold medals which are now being achieved by these students and he said that Australia and the University would like to see more of these.
He highlighted that if these scholarships are given to the best students of the regional countries, then their goal is to be the best in their University academia right through to achieving gold medals.
Outstanding AAPS students with their awards.
“I hope that your journey here has been a rewarding one, not only in education but also in other activities that you have taken part in. At the University, we try to give you as much learning support as possible,” Mr Karan said.
This year the University has rolled out the Tablet Learning and the Lecture Capture Projects which the Director said supports the students’ learning journey at USP.
He stressed that USP is the best example of building Pacific consciousness, which the University prioritises very highly.
Mr Karan invited the students to come back to their alma mater and added that, “your ties with USP will be sustained through alumni networks and lifelong learning extending long into the future.”
He also took the opportunity to invite AAPS students to be part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018.
The University has also started an Alumni Fund as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, and Mr Karan invited the students to contribute towards the future development of the University through the Fund.
In her address, Ms Elison George First Secretary, Education & Safer Communities, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Vanuatu said that a lot of effort has not only been put into making sure that the students are well supported while they are studying but in making sure that the right candidates are chosen for the programme.
Ms George said that it was a privilege being part of the next generation of leaders in the Pacific and this, she added, is the reason why the AAPS students were selected for the scholarship.
Mona Taumoefolau receives her award from Ms Asi Vanisi, Assistant Program Manager, Scholarships at DFAT Tonga.
Studying at University, she said, can become quite challenging at times and doing it away from friends and family in a different country is even harder, but she added that this is part of their learning.
Soon, she added, the students will be farewelled from USP, but they will be welcomed into a global alumni network for the Australia Awards programme.
On behalf of the students, Alice Tekaieti thanked the people and Government of Australia for the award and said that “we are grateful and appreciative to be recipients of DFAT Scholarship Award Scheme.”
She noted that for most students who have been sponsored by the Australian Government, scholarships are part of their academic lives and the main contributor to their life goals and professions.
“Many students from their respective countries in the Pacific region have been awarded, graduated and are now transformed into responsible citizens strengthening their own communities, offering their better-quality services and utilising their knowledge and skills to individuals, organisations and the government where needed,” Alice said.
Student, Siale Suamalie shared his experiences as an AAPS awardee, having gone through a number of struggles during his University life but he managed to complete his programme within the prescribed years, for which he is grateful.
“While it is a prestigious scholarship to be on, it is also a prestigious network to enter as well. We know that you will need an ongoing support, strong networks with your colleagues, support from future employers, so we try to offer that through our alumni network,” Ms George said.
DFAT representatives from different regional countries were also part of the lunch event.
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