The power of sharing one’s experience can have a lasting impact on family members, colleagues, or even friends, as it boosts confidence and becomes an enabler for most to chase their dreams.
As the youngest of six siblings, Sulieti Kavafolau often unintentionally listens in on her older sisters’ discussions about their higher education studies at The University of the South Pacific (USP).
Little did she know that these stories would take root and eventually influence her to choose USP for her higher education.
“I was born here in Tonga and moved to Australia when I was little, as my father decided to pursue further studies abroad before we returned home. My mother is a housewife, and my father is now a lecturer and Reverend at Sia’atoutai Theological College.”
From the Island Kingdom of Tonga, the only Pacific nation with the crown, 18-year-old Sulieti is ready to start her tertiary education with USP this year after being accepted into the institution’s Bachelor of Geospatial Science programme.
Despite her humble background and upbringing, Sulieti always knew that her passion for geography was something she would like to capitalise on later in life.
Like most Pacific Island children, she was surrounded by friends and family all her life and experienced the richness of Pacific culture within her community.
While she breezed through life on the Island Kingdom, Sulieti doubted her ability to pass her external examination as she struggled to cope with high school studies.
“It’s always been a challenge to cope with schoolwork. When I was in Year 11 in 2021, I had my external exams. During the first week of the exam, I was glued to my books to ensure I remember all the right formulas and know all the equations, concepts, terminology, and other important information.”
“At some point, I convinced myself that I would fail, so I prayed and did my best with the remaining papers, and all I could do was hope for the best. When the results came out, I passed all my subjects. It was a turning point for me and made me realise the power of prayer.”
From then on, Sulieti decided to focus on geography and computers as these were the two subjects she was interested in.
Last year, while she was in Year 13, the 18-year-old girl decided to join USP to pursue her studies in geography further.
“When going through the list of programmes and majors available at USP, I saw geospatial science, which immediately caught my attention. Learning about geospatial science and geography in high school piqued my interest, so I applied for the programme.”
“It wasn’t a choice I made lightly. I chose to study this at USP because it supports my idea and aligns with my dream of helping the environment we live in.”
Ready to start her academic journey with USP this semester, Sulieti is confident this is the pathway she needs to take to give back to her community and assist local authorities, organisations, and communities that often struggle with preserving the environment.
“For instance, with climate change being a global issue, I want to help experts minimise the threats from pollution, global warming, etc.”
However, the geography enthusiast has her sight set on a target: pass her courses this semester with flying colours to secure a scholarship that would help her pay her tuition.
Excited to experience university life, Sulieti also looks forward to meeting old friends who opted to study at the USP Tonga Campus this year, as they have been part of her friendship circle that motivated each other academically throughout high school.
“USP is more than just an academic institution; it symbolises regionalism, is owned by 12 member countries, and you can study from different campuses in the region. More so, USP has flexible study modes such as face-to-face classes, a mix of face-to-face and online classes, and some courses allow you to study online, which you can do remotely.”
Ready to take the reign of her tertiary education, Sulieti encourages new and resuming students to submit their applications and chase their dreams with USP.
The Semester 1, 2024 application deadline has been extended to February 21.