Twenty-two-year old Gataiolefanuafou Tonumaipe’a of Vaiaata, Savai’i, has created history for the big island.
Among the 11 students awarded at the U.S.P’s Pacific Technical and Further Education (Foundation Programme), Mr. Tonumaipe’a has become the first student to complete a full Foundation Programme at the U.S.P Savai’i Centre.
Speaking to the media, Mr. Tonumaipe’a said he is grateful for the opportunity but it wasn’t easy.
“During my studies I was struggling because the internet was not good and nor was the satellite as well,” he said.
“But for me I had my textbooks and they helped alot with my studies. When the internet was not good, my textbooks provided the answers to all my questions. It involves a lot of reading but it helped me.”
Now that he’s succeeded, Mr. Tonumaipe’a challenges others on the big island to follow his footsteps.
“My challenge for those students who are living in the big island but want to study at U.S.P. is to buy textbooks because they really help with your studies,” he said.
“Don’t rely on the internet for your studies because there will be times that we don’t have access to the internet but with textbooks everything you need are in there.”
For Mr. Tonumaipe’a, he believes that where there is a will, there will always be a way.
“I put my whole heart into my studies,” he said.
“I knew if I didn’t work hard I will never be able to get anywhere and I also knew that if I relied on the internet, satellite, limited resources, and lack of teachers I would never be able to get this far.
“I had my textbooks with me and if I didn’t understand I would call up my Coordinator Ronna Lee for help and sometimes I would ask her if she could come to Savai’i to do tutorials.
“I asked for help from everyone that I knew and that is how I was able to do it.”
So what’s next?
“My aim is to complete my degree,” he said.
“I have completed my certificate the next step is my bachelor and then continue on to my degree.
“I know it won’t be easy and this is just the beginning but I will work hard because I now have a sponsor who is the Apia Rotary Club.
“Thank you very much for supporting not only me but other students who need help financially.
“I will put my all in completing my school and hopefully get a degree.”
Gataiolefanuafou is the youngest of nine children and he wants to become a lawyer.