Countless people who stepped into help in whatever way they could, was the highlight of Mr Solo Timote Vaiomo’unga Tukutukunga’s journey at The University of the South Pacific (USP).
Mr Tukutukunga who is better known by his friends and colleagues as Timote, graduated from the USP Tonga Campus last week with his Master in Education.
Timote said, “some of the challenges I faced was access to various places, as I am wheelchair bound, some people in authority holders had limited knowledge of my situation but I got rid of these challenges with a sheer change in perception, because I had a goal, and nothing was going to stop me.”
He also acknowledged the support he and so many other students received during their time studying at USP.
“It was not only one, but USP as a whole helped get me this achievement, my immense gratitude I want to show for the support offered by Isimeli and the security office, Natasha and all the library staff, as well as the team from the Australian Scholarship at USP,” he added.
Timote also thanked Hilda and the Student Learning Services support, Christopher at the Disability Resource Centre, Ilima in allowing him to use the computer labs at all times, Temalesi and all the Education lecturers and he especially thanked Dr. Masaso Pāunga for reminding him often that he can make it all the way,
He also touched on how COVID-19 was not a challenge or hinderance to his studies but rather a blessing. Timote said, “COVID-19 encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone, and for someone like me, that’s not an easy thing to do. But it helped me so much more, than I ever thought because I learned what I was capable of.
“My greatest blessing has been my faith in God, he equipped me to come this far, and he has helped me win,” said Timote.
He added, “my advice to young people not just in Tonga but anywhere in the Pacific is to make valuable contributions that will be worthwhile and be remembered long after we are gone.
The 69-year-old is now aspiring to establish an institute which can cater for students with learning disabilities and learning needs.