The man who played a leading role in establishing the National University of Samoa was honoured yesterday in front of hundreds of people at the N.U.S. gymnasium.
Member of the Council of Deputies and long serving former Member of Parliament, Tapusatele Le Mamea Tuiletufuga Lemalu Su’a Leatuavao Ropati Mualia, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Political Science and Education during the graduation ceremony at the University.
The honour conferred on Tapusatele was the highlight of a joyous celebration where 428 students graduated with different qualifications from the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.).
Tapusatele is no stranger to the University, having being one of those behind the establishment of the institution.
He was acknowledged for all the years that he has served Samoa and his contribution towards Samoa’s education system.
For Tapusatele, he took a journey down memory lane yesterday. He said that the journey of establishing the University in February 1984 was not easy.
With only 47 students in its early days, he still believed in his dream of giving back to his country.
Fast forward three decades later, the 73-year-old stood on the podium in front of 428 graduates, parents and friends to deliver his speech, which he described could only be achieved with passion and having a dream.
“More than thirty years ago, we embarked on a journey to set up a National University in Samoa; something that we knew seemed a little far-fetched at the time,” Tapusatele shared.
“Now 35 years later, as I stand before you, I am in awe of the magnitude of this institution and am humbled by God’s blessing on a dream we dared to dream many years ago.
“During the planning stages, when we prepared the soil and planted the seed of establishment of the National University of Samoa, this auspicious moment was furthest from our minds.
“But when planning involves the element of faith, there is divine assurance that the realisation of things unseen will come about.
“When speaking of faith, the Word of God uses the analogy of a mustard seed being the smallest and yet with faith of such miniscule size, this seed when planted, may bring forth a tree of life with branches and in the shade of which many will find shelter.
“It is from a position of deep gratitude at seeing the culmination of the labours of many moons ago, that I, on behalf of those with whom we dared to hope for this day.”
He said the 47 pioneer students were labelled by a newspaper in those days as “guinea pigs which the Minister of Education was using as an experiment”.
“They say that ‘hindsight is 20/20 vision’ and there is a Samoan proverb which says ‘e le iloa ala o vae’-simply put - we do not know what tomorrow holds.
“Today (yesterday), I stand before you as the personification of this sentiment. When the hope to establish a national university for Samoa, for you our young people of today, those who came before you and those to come, which was birthed.
“And a proposal accepted by Cabinet in April 1983, you were the hope deferred that King Solomon professed, makes the heart sick.”
Tapusatele encouraged the graduates that their achievements begin another season in their lives.
“The accomplishments; the joys and challenges along the path, is what gives our lives its color and magnificence; it is what gives meaning to what we do and where we are.
“The question I would ponder you with, is where to from here?”
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