A long-serving staff member of The University of the South Pacific (USP) and mother of two, Ms Sharon McGowan said she always emphasised to her children that education was a privilege that is earned, and this was certainly the case for her daughter Dinzel McGowan who graduated in the USP October graduation with a Bachelor of Commerce in Tourism and Hospitality Management.
Ms Sharon has served at the University since 1986 when she joined USP as a graduate intern from the Latter-Day Saints Technical College. Throughout the years, she witnessed countless graduation ceremonies, which she says have changed from their humble beginnings to what it is now.
The graduation ceremony held on Wednesday, 5 October 2022 was an extra special one for Ms McGowan as she watched her daughter, Dinzel, receive her degree after years of hard work as Dinzel also juggles a full-time business.
Ms McGowan said, “My father used to say that education is a key out of poverty, to be educated is the pinnacle of one’s success. To witness my daughter walking through the doors cemented that learning had no barriers”.
“She struggled through her years of education, and she acquired her first diploma from the Fiji National University. From there, I encouraged her to take on a challenge at USP to allow her to understand the other facets of learning which she succeeded in. Failures and challenges along the way have enabled her to become a better person, not only as a chef but as a businesswoman where she has learned to market herself and to be very proud of what she has done from the humble beginnings that she had,” Ms McGowan added.
She also highlighted a little more about her 35-year service at USP. She stated, “USP is home to many of our island countries, especially our regional member countries. What makes us unique is we are resilient people and that is one thing that always draws me to USP. It’s our people. We serve our people.”
Ms McGowan also shared that one comes into USP with many expectations of themselves.
“You learn a lot. You learn from scholars, you learn from mentors, and especially people who are academically savvy and brilliant in their respective fields. We are privileged to be able to learn from them because this has allowed learning through experience and the latest leads in technology.”
Meanwhile, her daughter Dinzel is the owner of Baked By Tiare, a cottage pastry business that is slowly enjoying the sweet taste of success.
The 29-year-old may look like the typical university scholar, vibrant, fun-loving and full of energy, but behind her youthful features is an ambitious businesswoman in the making, ready to etch her place in the local café circle and pastry scene.
Dinzel said, “COVID-19 was a major challenge for many of us who have graduated, however, it also allowed many of us to be innovative.”
“USP has also helped me grow my business. With all that I have learnt, I apply it to my business, and now I am working on a product for another potential market in the UK,” Dinzel added.