USP Alumni Network

Name: George Balairamo 

Country: Solomon Islands 

Programme: Bachelor of Arts (2015)

Occupation: Principal Rural Development Officer, Ministry of Rural Development, Solomon Islands Government

Why did you choose your field of study?

I choose Environmental Studies due to the fact that many small island nations in the Pacific region including my home country, Solomon Islands is currently facing the threat of severe environmental issues as a result of climate change. There are also other major environmental issues caused by continuous large scale logging activities, mining and major developments. These issues pose negative impacts on the environment and also on the livelihood of local people.  I firmly believe that my field of study will enhance my capability to share significant knowledge and skills to effectively manage the environment. Through my studies, I have gained knowledge on adaptation and mitigation strategies best suited for Pacific Island Countries to reduce the negative impacts posed by changes in the climatic conditions. 

Briefly reflect on your student life at USP?

It was a dream come true for me to study at USP, a premium university in the Pacific region. I encountered many challenges in my education since leaving high school however, I never looked back since the day I attended my very first lecture at Marine Campus. Attending USP was a remarkably life changing opportunity for me as the friendliness of my lecturers, tutors and new friends together with the excellent learning environment helped me to settle in well.  The university brings people from different cultural backgrounds and it provides a great opportunity to interact, share and make life time friends. I have many friends from around the Pacific region and also international students. Being an Environment student, it was interesting to go on field trips to remote communities to conduct studies on natural landscapes, livelihood of people, historical sites, impacts of climate change and also socio-economic challenges faced by local communities. USP provides the best opportunity for students to do practical field work in appropriate locations to fully understand theories learnt during lectures. 

Greatest achievement[s] as a student 

The greatest achievement was to complete my study and graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree within my scholarship time-frame. 

Career Highlights since Graduation 

After graduation, I was given a great opportunity by the Honiara City Council Education Authority to become a Senior Geography Tutor at White River Community High School. Being fresh from university, sharing my Geography knowledge and skills with senior students was a good start for me. After the school’s final examination and close of the 2015 academic year, I took up a new post as Principal Rural Development Officer – Project Planning & Implementation with the Ministry of Rural Development, a Solomon Islands Government Machinery. Currently, I am almost a year in my new job and I really enjoy performing my duties for the benefit of rural based Solomon Islanders. 

Who/what do you credit your success to? What inspires you? 

First of all, as a person with strong Christianity background I want to thank God for His many blessings. I also want to thank my course coordinators and tutors of various courses I have enrolled in the School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment and School of Marine Studies (Faculty of Science, Technology & Environment), School of Economics, School of Government, Development and International Affairs (Faculty of Business & Economics). Without the support and tireless effort of my course coordinators and tutors, I would not succeed academically. I would like to give credit to my family who have encouraged and motivate me to work hard. Finally, to my friends at the university who were supportive and always there when I needed help.   

How do you think USP helped you in your career? 

I am pleased to say that USP has played a significant role in helping me to be confident and professional. With the multi-cultural environment, USP has shaped me to adapt well to a multi-cultural work environment and also to understand different cultural settings when travelling to perform my duties. The courses are well designed both in theory and practical.  It is also important to note that USP has improved my leadership capability to take up leadership roles in the work place. 

Describe any challenges you face to reach where you are today and how you overcame those challenges? 

Like any normal human being, I faced many challenges in life. After leaving high school, life seems to hit a brick wall as being young with peer pressure from friend I assumed there is no future for me. I then decided to find odd jobs that could sustain me financially and at this stage never dreamt of pursuing further studies. However, things started to change when I realized that life will be tough for me without any qualification and a secure job. Things started to turn out differently in how I saw life and I decided to enroll for foundation courses at the University of the South Pacific, Solomon Islands Campus. In 2011, I applied for admission at Laucala Campus and was accepted to pursue Bachelor Arts Environmental Studies. With the Solomon Islands Government support to fully sponsor my degree programme, I never looked back. Life away from family offered total freedom and this was my biggest challenge. There was pressure from my friends and social life however, I always reminded myself to remain committed to my studies. My goal was to do well academically and graduate with a degree, something I proudly achieved in September, 2015 during my graduation. During the four years, I prioritized my studies and ensured that my assignments were completed and submitted on time. I am not always perfect academically and I always seek assistance from my course coordinators, tutors and friends. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years (career and/or personal goals)? 

For now, I am focusing more on my job to ensure the rural population benefits with the support of the government through the rural development program. I am also keen to take up a leadership role to make decisions that will be of great importance thus ensure government services are delivered to the people. I am planning to enroll for online Postgraduate Program in Climate Change next year at the USP Solomon Islands Campus to further my academic career. In the longer term, I want to gain more experiences in the Public Services and in the future, I would like to enter into Solomon Islands Politics. I believe there are issues affecting Pacific Islands such as climate change that needs to be highlighted and addressed regionally and more so internationally. Making relevant laws that will protect the environment would be of paramount priority if I enter into Solomon lslands politics to ensure the environment is well managed for the future generation. Today, Pacific Islands including Solomon Islands has been developing at a faster rate and there are issues concerning the environment not prioritize which will have negative implications in the future. For instance, issue of logging, mining and infrastructural developments must not be taken lightly by Pacific Island Countries.  

What advice would you give to current and future students of USP? 

My advice to current and future students of USP is to prioritize their studies and make decisions that will benefit you and your family in the future. There are many challenges that you might face in your education however never let the challenges overcome your determination to succeed academically. You might fail but remember failure is not the end. If you fall down, please stand up and continue your academic journey and if you can’t run then walk, you will reach your destination no matter how long it takes. The courses offered at USP were not designed to fail students but help you to work smarter.  I highly recommend you to study at USP, the best institution in the Pacific that will fully equipped you with necessary skills and knowledge to face challenges in life. 

Please share top three tips that you think are most important for our current students or recent graduates that will help them when starting out on their career paths. 

• Set out your career goal, be confident of yourself and work smartly to achieve your future plans

• Ensure you build a good relationship with your course coordinators and tutors, and always seek assistance when needed

• Be a USP ambassador in any work related environment, uphold ethical standards and always remained committed to your profession

What has your involvement been with the University since you graduated? 

• Since leaving USP in 2014, I have been involved with USP Solomon Islands Campus as an Assistant Examination Supervisor during first and the second semester final exams of 2015

• I am a member of the School of Geography Grassroot Recycling Group formed in 2014 with the help of Dr. John Lowry and GE304 students thus I always remain committed to the principles of the group in my work place to ensure the environment is kept clean at all times 

Any other information you would like to share.

As a USP graduate, I acknowledge USP for making my dreams a reality. I am now formally employed and I am confident that my future is secured.  I recommend anyone (young and mature individuals) wishing to take up further studies to enroll and choose their programme of interest from the number of programs offered at USP.

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