Mumui La’akulu won the gold medal for the most outstanding Environmental Science graduate; Nimilote Halatoafa won the gold medal for the most outstanding Marine Science graduate and Anyalene Kahealani H. Nau won the Pacific TAFE Prize for the most outstanding graduate in Certificate 4 in Training, Assessment & Evaluation programme (shared award).
Dr. Robin Havea, Director, USP Tonga Campus
said that he believes these special awards “received by our very own students from Tonga is something we should be celebrating and are very proud of.”
“It goes to show that our students can perform up to such standard of excellence and it is even more exciting that some of these students either had a humble beginning here or spent all their time at the Tonga Campus
,” he said.
“Parents and guardians of these students should be congratulated. I hope this is an incentive and also encourages other students based at Tonga Campus
to always try their best, never give up, and become gold medal recipients in the future.”
La’akulu and Halatoafa entered USP through the Science Cohort organised by Faculty of Science Technology and Engineering (FSTE) based at USP-Tonga Campus
as one the initiatives to upskill science teachers at High Schools in Tonga, sponsored by the Asian Development Bank.
Mumui La’akulu teaches science at Tonga High School and Nimilote Halatoafa at Tonga College. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, both two gold medalists were unable to attend the Medals and Prizes Ceremony at Laucala Campus
in September. Their medals and prizes will be sent to them through the Tonga Campus
Ms. La’akulu, who graduated with a BSc in Environmental Science said that she felt good and proud of herself and the award has boosted her confidence. Trying to make a difference, Ms. La’akulu took up studies at USP after teaching for 20 years.
“I did not do my best during High School which is something I regret. When I was given a second chance to go back to school, I promised myself that I would do everything to succeed. During the day it was all work, after work it was family and I would find time after that for my studies,” she said.
“I made sacrifices like minimising my leisure activities and kept regularly checking Moodle for any updates.” She said that the award has boosted her confidence as a teacher.
La’akulu believes that studying in Tonga is one of the reasons for her achievement. “I had support from family and friends. My motivation was my kids and my colleagues.”
Her advice to students is “do your best while you are still young. If we can do it at our age imagine what you would become if you finished your studies while you are still young.”
Nimilote Halatoafa said he was overjoyed to receive his recognition from the University.
“To work full time, parent full time and study full time, I was still able to achieve excellent results. It is a matter of sacrifice, priority and work hard at all time,” he said.
“I believe this achievement open doors for a higher academic achievement in the coming future.”
He said the staff of USP were willing to help at all times and the Tonga Campus
is well equipped to help students at all times.
Halatoafa encourages students to set a goal and strive for it because everything is possible.
“If you want to continue to study, you must sacrifice few things in order to achieve your goal. Nothing is impossible. If I was able to do it, you too can do it,” he said.