Kartik Reddy (middle with family) graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and International Business Management at last week’s USP graduation ceremony at the Vodafone Arena in Suva. Picture: YUKTA CHAND
By YUKTA CHAND and PRERNA PRIYANKA
As many as 1786 students graduated from The University of the South Pacific last week, a celebration of their achievements and perseverance to overcome unprecedented global challenges.
The ceremony, which took place at the Vodafone Arena in Suva, also recognised the University’s dedication to promoting gender equality in education as 61 per cent of the total number of graduates were women.
USP Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia expressed his immense satisfaction with the achievements and the exciting possibilities that lay ahead.
He encouraged the graduates to reflect on the values and people that had helped them reach this momentous occasion.
“Embrace this moment with gratitude and determination, and use your knowledge, skills, and passion to contribute to a resilient, just, and prosperous Pacific region,” he said.
Prof Ahluwalia said the remarkable statistic that 61% of the total graduates were women, demonstrated the University’s commitment to empowering and promoting gender equality in education.
“The event brought together a diverse group of students from over 22 countries and 10 non-member countries, applauding their tenacity and dedication amidst the extraordinary circumstances faced during their academic journey,” he said.
For Christina Tiiroa from Kiribati, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce in land and tourism management had prepared her for the challenge in her home country.
“I chose to do this programme because I wanted to make a difference in Kiribati. There is this fear of losing our land, and with the knowledge I’ve gained in land and tourism management, I hope to make a difference in those areas,” she said.
“When I became a mother in my second year at USP, I refused to let that be an excuse to stop my studies. Balancing motherhood and my education was a challenge but I never saw it as impossible.”
Ms Tiiroa hopes to be an example to other women and girls about the important of perseverance and determination.
“Women can achieve their dreams despite the obstacles some might face. I’d like to encourage all women not to limit themselves and strive to reach their goals no matter what they face,” she said.
Another graduate Savoira Bola overcame financial hardships and personal challenges to earn her Bachelor’s degree.
She began her studies in 2014 but dropped out due to financial constraints. She ventured into the workforce and decided to revisit her education in 2016.
“I’d like to thank my family and mentors for their unwavering support. I would encourage others who are in the same scenario to work hard and never give up on their studies,” Ms Bola said.
Kartik Reddy, who graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and International Business Management, thanked his parents for supporting his educational journey.
“I appreciate the support from my family and I thank them for standing by my side,” he said.
During the graduation, 61 graduands received two awards and were counted once under their highest honour. At least 204 students graduated in Postgraduate programmes, of which 104 received their master’s qualification.
Prof Ahluwalia says USP continues to be a bedrock for regionalism and was a resource owned by the region for the region.
He said this ‘precious institution’ needed to be protected in line with the vision of its forefathers.
“Staff and students are just as proud of the many alumni currently leaders in the international and private sectors and continue to make an immensely invaluable contribution to the development of these countries and the region,” he said.
“Our graduates have filled critical roles, and many have become leaders across all sectors in their respective countries. We are proud of our alumni who have become Prime Ministers, Presidents, Ministers of the cabinet, leaders of the public and private sector in our member countries.”
He said USP’s top 10% Times Higher Education global ranking demonstrated that it continued to punch above its weight compared to the more than 20,000 universities across the globe.
For the second time in a row, USP ranked 101-200 in the Global Top 100 Innovative Universities by the World University Real Impact Ranking (WURI) 2022. The University also ranked in the top 151-200 in the latest Shanghai Rankings through the Discipline of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
*Yukta Chand and Prerna Priyanka are final-year journalism students at USP’s Laucala Campus. They are senior editors for Wansolwara, USP Journalism’s flagship student training newspaper and online publication.