A total of 167 students were celebrated today as they graduated from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Tonga Campus with their certificates, diplomas, and degrees.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony, USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia highlighted that of those graduating, seventy-two per cent (72%) were women which was a remarkable achievement, and 81 students were from Pacific TAFE programmes.
“I am also extremely pleased to announce that we are awarding 29 Postgraduate Certificates of which five have completed their Master’s. Students from twelve countries are graduating, including two from non-member countries,” he added.
Professor Ahluwalia also reminded students that today was a significant point as they had each finished a crucial stage of career growth, and were now prepared to start a new, fulfilling adventure by putting the knowledge they had learned into practice.
“No doubt, it’s been a challenging two years since the pandemic restructured, the way we live, the way we study, the way we work and the way we have each felt, some degree of difficulty in responding to the trials and tribulations that have been presented to us,” he said.
“This is most deeply felt by those amongst us who have lost loved ones, and for those who have had to endure physical separation from family and friends as borders closed and travel restrictions were imposed.”
The Vice-Chancellor also said, “Today is a celebration of your tenacity and endurance, and it also gives us a chance to express our gratitude to the academic and professional staff members who, like you, have faced their own challenges amicably and have remained steadfastly committed to assisting you in achieving your learning objectives”.
Professor Ahluwalia also encouraged graduates and those present to acknowledge the staff, sponsors, mentors, employers, co-workers, and family members who had all contributed significantly to the success of each of the graduates.
Graduate Speaker, Misi Funaki who graduated with a Master of Commerce in Professional Accounting delivered a powerful and moving speech to her fellow graduates and their respective families who were present.
“Our journey here today was filled with challenges. I started this journey here at USP Tonga Campus in 2013 starting my way towards a Bachelor’s Degree, aiming to get the best grades and a qualification that can get me a higher paid job for my family. I am sure this is the number one reason why we all started this journey,” she said.
“The courses themselves were a challenge for each of us, some courses were not offered and so we waited until the time came for the courses to be run here in Tonga and this made our journey longer. Some of us are working full-time and studying part-time. However, regardless of hardships faced we made it here today and I congratulate each one of us.”