Graduates pose for a photo after the graduation ceremony at RMI Campus.
A total of forty three (43) students graduated from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) Campus on 2 October 2018.
Out of the total, seventeen (17) students graduated from Pacific Technical and Further Education (Pacific TAFE), nine (9) students graduated with Undergraduate programme, one with Postgraduate Certificate, six (6) with Postgraduate Diploma and ten (10) students graduated with Masters programmes. Fifty four per cent (54%) of those who graduated were females.
Present at the graduation ceremony was Mr WinstonThompson, USP Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council; Her Excellency Hilda C Heine, President of RMI; Honourable Wilbur Heine, RMI Minister of Education; Traditional Leaders; Honourable Ministers and Senior Officials of the Government; Excellences and Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Dr Irene Taafaki, Director of RMI Campus; Members of the Campus Advisory Council; graduates, their families and friends, and members of RMI Campus staff and students.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Acting Vice-Chancellor and President of USP offered his warmest congratulations to the graduates, adding that as part of their major milestone, the graduate experience and qualifications would help them increase the chance of lifelong success anywhere in the world.
Professor Armstrong further highlighted that the opportunity to study within the culture of the Pacific Islands is also an incredibly important one.
“We want our education not only to be internationally excellent but also relevant to the needs and priorities of our own region. As we go forward we also want to expand opportunities to include more international students in the University so that we can both broaden understanding of the Pacific and encourage the benefits of cross cultural learning,” Professor Armstrong said.
This, he added, includes creating more opportunities for our students to have an experience of studying abroad whilst undertaking their degrees at USP.
Talking about graduation achievements this year, Professor Armstrong said that this year, Ellen Milne is a Gold Medalist for her strong performance as an MBA student, which is also the first Gold Medal awarded to a student from the RMI. In addition, five (5) staff from the RMI Campus have also graduated this year.
Among the achievements of the RMI Campus, Professor Armstrong noted the establishment of the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport (MCST).
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the RMI Government and USP is also set to be signed during his visit to Majuro to confirm this joint initiative.
Professor Armstrong confirmed that a Director has now been appointed and the Center’s Research Associate is in place.
MCST will engage in research and innovation, policy assistance and capacity building in sustainable transport, especially in shipping.
The RMI Campus will further make a major contribution to the five (5) year project, titled, “Improving the Quality in Basic Education”, in Principal Leadership Development, Classroom Assessment and Early Childhood Education.
In her address, H.E Dr Heine said that the RMI graduation is another unique celebration, as it coincides with the week of joyful activities observing the 50th Anniversary of USP, as she congratulated the University on this major milestone.
While congratulating the graduates on their fine achievement, H.E Dr Heine applauded the students for their commitment to completingtheir academic programmes.
“I am especially pleased to note the increase in students who have gained professional qualifications that make them workforce ready, including another cohort in a steady stream of MBA students and a group of eleven (11) students who have achieved qualifications in Accounting,” H.E Dr Heine said.
“This gives me a great sense of personal satisfaction, since one of my first calls to higher education when I assumed the Presidency was for both the College and University to make a concerted effort to give training in Accounting and Financial Management,” she added.
While the need for individual drive and personal fulfilment is recognised as important in today’s world, H.E Dr Heine appealed to the graduates to not forget to maintain the spirit of service in all that they undertake.
“It is through service that you come to understand yourself as well as contributing in significant ways to the general good,” she said.
H.E Dr Heine affirmed that without doubt, USP has been an engine of growth over the past 50 years with its graduates contributing in all sectors of society.
USP, she emphasised has ensured that Pacific peoples have the opportunity to develop their talents and capacities, and to realise their potential.
In congratulating the University on its very remarkable achievement in getting the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) Accreditation, H.E Dr Heine said that the RMI Government is justifiably proud of its role in maintaining its encouragement to the University to achieve this accreditation, and looked forward to many Marshallese students taking full opportunity of the benefits associated with it.
She further noted that her Government appreciates how USP is contributing to the revitalisation of culture at RMI; particularly the display of jaki-ed and the launch of the book on this unique cultural activity as part of the 50th Anniversary.
“It is always good to see how our weaving experts and young weavers are fully integrated into the life of the campus, that their talents are acknowledged and respected as highly as those with academic knowledge,” she said.
Meanwhile, Professor Armstrong thanked the artists from the Oceania Dance Theatre and Pasifika Voices who have worked with the RMI Campus student choir to make the occasion of the RMI graduation a memorable one, and he also acknowledged Dr Taafaki and her staff for their preparation towards the graduation.
The graduation was immediately followed by the Minister of Education’s Appreciation Dinner. The event acknowledged the contribution of H.E Dr Hilda C Heine and the RMI Government to the advance of Higher Education in the Marshall Islands. In addition, the commitment of three Campus staff was also recognised. Those recognised included Math and Physics teacher, Fereti Sefeti, who served the RMI-USP Programme for 22 years, Patricia Kuridua Yavala, who taught Foundation English for 15 years, and administrator Yolanda McKay, who has served the campus for 18 years.
The graduation ceremony was also livestreamed in the US, Fiji, Hawaii and Japan and was watched by over 4,000 people. The livestreaming was organised by the RMI National Telecommunications Authority. The graduation footage can be accessed online on the following link: https://livestream.com/accounts/9284933/events/8396570/videos/181100857
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