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Acting Vice-Chancellor and Presidentís Address at the USP Samoa Campus Graduation on 30 April, 2021

(Note: This address was delivered by the USP Samoa Campus Director, Dr. Fanaafi Aiono-Le Tagaloa, on behalf of the Acting Vice Chancellor and President)


SALUTATIONS

Susu Lau Susuga i le Taitai o le Sauniga, le Faatui a Satuala. 

Afio Lau Afioga i le Ao Mamalu o le Malo Tutoatasi o Samoa, ma lau Masiofo 

Afio lau Afioga i le Faa-Ao o le Iunvesite o le Pasefika i Saute 

Afio lau Afioga i le Taitaifono o le Fono Sili a le Iunivesite o le Pasefika i Saute ma Sui o le Fono Sili faapea le Senate, tainane Mamalu o le Iunivesite i ona tulaga faalupe. 

Afio lau Afioga i le Palemia ma le Kapeneta o le Malo Tutoatasi o Samoa 

Afifio le Paia ma le Mamalu o sasao nei aua oe Samoa le Ao Mamala - Mai le Taisamasama seia paia le Lualoto o Alii. 

Tulou, Tulouna lava. Afifio maia, Susu maia ma tala mai Aao. 

Ua tea i lagi le Viiga ua maea molia e le Ositaualaga i le itula ua fano, a e le faaitiitia ai le Agaga Fia Viivii ma Faafetai aua o le Alofa o le Atua ua tatou feiloai ai i lana Pule Faasoifua. Ua tele ai upu i manu, ae itiiti upu i mala. 

Ia ee maia i outou seetaga malu ae sei ou liliu ane e faailo le finagalo o le Afioga i le Sui Peresitene po o le Sui Faa-Ao o le Iunvesite o le Pasefika i Saute – Le Afioga Dr. Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Paunga aua le Uluai Faauuga a le Laumua i Samoa a le Iunivesite o le Pasefika i Saute, talu mai le tausaga 2018. 

  • Lau Susuga Rev. Uta Muaulu,
  • Your Highness, the Head of State of the Independent State of Samoa, ma lau Masiofo
  • The Chancellor,
  • The Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the USP Council,
  • Honourable Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa
  • Honourable Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Samoa USP Council Member and Chair of the Samoa Campus Advisory Committee – Afioga Hon. Loau Solamalemalo Keneti Sio, and Members of Cabinet
  • Members of the USP Council and Senate and the Samoa Campus Advisory Committee
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Heads of International and Regional Organizations
  • Members of the USP Senior Management Team
  • Graduands, family and friends 

It is my honour and privilege to deliver the Address of the Acting Vice Chancellor and President of the University of the South Pacific – Le Afioga Dr. Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Paunga on the occasion of the USP Samoa Campus Graduation 2021. 

WELCOME 

Talofa lava, Welcome and warm Pacific Greetings to you! 

What a great honour and privilege it is to welcome you today to The USP Graduation Ceremony for 2021. I thank you immensely for your presence to recognize and honour our graduates on their marvelous achievements. 

GRADUATION NUMBERS 

Today, 49 USP – Samoa Campus students will receive their certificates, diplomas and degrees. Joined by 20 of their USP – Laucala Campus peers who were unable to attend their Graduation in Fiji last week due to COVID travel restrictions and the current lockdown. 

Of our USP – Samoa Campus graduands: 

  • seventy percent (70%) are women – E moni a le Upu E au le inailau a tamaitai!
  • thirteen percent (13%) are being awarded an undergraduate degree
  • and thirty-two percent (32%) are from our Pacific TAFE programmes. 

We are extremely pleased to announce that we are awarding almost 30 Postgraduate Certificates today.   

TO OUR GRADUANDS 

To our graduands, Graduation is a milestone to celebrate, the completion of your degree is a great personal accomplishment and it is also a momentous occasion shared by all your loved ones who have contributed to your success.

I want to personally thank you for bringing credit to yourselves, your families, your communities and to the University. 

Graduating in 2021 is truly extraordinary! The journey to the finish line has been anything but, normal. The resilience, determination and adaptability you have endured to be here today, is a truly remarkable feat to be celebrated. With the numerous shifts in the academic calendar and several lockdowns, we are indeed proud that you stood the test of COVID. 

Asha Tyson, a motivational speaker and international best-selling author said this,

Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is the right time”. 

Yes, indeed, this is your season, and this is your time. While today represents the close of a chapter for some, I want to encourage you that life is full of possibilities awaiting you. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. As most of you begin your careers, my advice to you is to believe that the future can be better than the present. Make and Be that change you wish for you, for your family, for your nation and our region. 

USP ACHIEVEMENTS AND ASPIRATIONS 

I am very pleased to highlight a number of developments in, and achievements of the University. 

  • The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect us most visibly through border and travel restrictions. Nevertheless, the University has successfully readjusted learning and teaching to a ‘new norm’ that is in compliance with COVID protocols. 
  • With a history of excellence in online teaching developed over 30 years, this meant that our courses faced minimal disruption during the COVID-19 crisis. It also provided a great opportunity to explore and discover best practices for staff-student engagement via e-Learning. 
  • The COVID-19 challenges spurred us to further invest in our ICT Infrastructure and the training of our staff with the necessary competencies to develop multimedia learning content. 
  • The University also welcomed the New Student Charter initiated and approved by the Student Council which resonates the spirit of USP to provide a Values Led-Education that empowers Pacific cultures and values through PASIFIKA. 
  • The USP Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) Programme received approval from the United States WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Our brothers and sisters from American Samoa can consider this an incentive to come to USP Samoa Campus. The approval is a reflection of the University’s commitment to raising its global standing and sustaining our institutional accreditations so that our graduates are internationally marketable. 
  • 2021 marks an exciting new phase for the University as it extended its Roadshow and Enrolment Drive. It has recorded an increase in student intake by 21%, for resuming students. 
  • 111 Staff and 46 Students with 220 unique publication titles were recognised for their research excellence in 2019, a testament of the resilience and commitment of USP staff and students to continued research for the betterment of the Pacific. 
  • The University, through Pacific TAFE offered short course programmes to support businesses during COVID to upskill staff; partnerships with AID donors committed to providing the Pacific people a path to self-reliance and resilience. This included a new partnership with Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) for quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) delivery and better employment outcomes for Pacific people. 
  • The most significant change to date is the Reorganisation of the University. The USP Council, the University’s highest governance and decision-making body approved the reorganisation in response to COVID-19 challenges and in efforts to make USP sustainable, stronger and fit for purpose for at least the next decade. 
  • I wish to acknowledge the support of our member governments, Council and its Committees, the Senate and its Committees, our development partners, our students and staff and all our USP Community. What we have achieved is a collective effort that I hope we will continue together, on our journey of excellence. 
  • I especially wish to acknowledge and thank the Chair and members of the Samoa Campus Advisory Committee. 

CONCLUDING REMARKS 

To our graduates, as you set sail to chart a new journey, your life-long relationship with USP as Alumni begins today. Today you are part of a network of an international community of USP graduates spanning across the globe. As we continue in the ‘new norm’ to shape the future of the Pacific, it is up to you and I to maintain our network of Alumni here at USP, that will help us to navigate, together as a region, a world that is uncertain and unpredictable. 

There are profound transformations and challenges occurring in the world today, our Blue Pacific Region, and even in our beautiful Samoa, however, your achievement today should provide you confidence and pride that you can be a part of the solution in these challenging times. 

I urge you, not to forget the wisdom and knowledge of our forbearers, whose courage and foresight charted the course that we have followed to arrive safely at the successes we celebrate today. 

Malo le Tau. Malo le Folau. Viia le Atua. Faafetai i le tapuaiga mau a Nuu ma Afioaga, matua ma Aiga. Faafetai mo talosaga molia aua le manuia o alo ma fanau a Samoa. 

I am confident that you will make us all proud, we believe for your future successes and will be there to cheer you on! 

Today I would like to close with the wise ode of Pacific scholar, Professor Epeli Hau’ofa: 

“We are the sea, we are the ocean, Oceania is in us…It’s time to create things for ourselves, to create established standards of excellence that match those of our ancestors.” 

Lau Susuga i le Taitai o le Sauniga, Your Highness the Head of State of the Independent State of Samoa ma lau Masiofo, Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor, the Honourable Prime Minister and Members of Cabinet, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, graduands, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience. E lagona ua vela le fala! Malo le onosai. Malo le lava papale. 

Before I conclude, I wish to honour our Samoa Campus Colleague Afioga Lautafi Kamuta Sefuiva, who passed away a few days ago. He has always been involved in every event, big and small for USP and I know he is here today in spirit, cheering us on. He is deeply missed and his seventeen years of service to USP, and more so his humility, kindness and genuine friendship will never be forgotten. My heartfelt condolences to his wife Suaniu and his children, and extended Aiga. Ia tafi mala le Malaga a Lana Auauna – mapu atu i Aao Alofa o lo tatou Faaola. Faamaise le Agaga o le Atua i le Aiga Faavauvau. Maua le lototele o lo tatou Aiga i le Laumua o le Iunivesite o le Pasefika i Samoa e faaauau galuega lelei a lenei tamaalii, uso, tuagane ma le uo mamae i le galuega. 

Once again, a hearty Congratulations to each and every one of you on this special occasion of your graduation, and as you leave this ceremony with testamur in hand, please bask in the importance of your achievement. You most certainly deserve it. 

I wish every one of you success, as proud Alumni of the University of the South Pacific. 

A tatala le filialii – tuuama le fua; muaau ma muliau lo tatou Atua. Tumau Lona Alofa ma Lona Agalelei i lenei Aofia faapea Samoa ua potopoto, tainane le Tapuaiga mau i Maota ma Laoa - Afioaga ma Alalafaga. 

Malo ‘Aupito – Soifua ma Ia Manuia.

Dr. Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Pāunga
Acting Vice-Chancellor and President

 


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