Although far from home, yesterday (Friday) was a day of celebration for Samoan doctor, Ulai Tapasafo Fidow, who became the first locally-trained doctor from the 2002 pioneering group of Oceania University of Medicine (O.U.M.) to receive a Masters in medicine.
With his newly attained Masters of Medicine in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G), Dr. Ulai gives all glory and praise to God and hopes that this leap forward, will inspire his fellow locally trained doctors to reach new heights.
The brief celebration took place at the School of Nursing Auditorium, Tamavua, Fiji, in the presence of the Fiji National University (F.N.U.) staff, family and friends, as well as the Permanent Secretary of Fiji's Ministry of Health, Mr. Philip Davies.
Dr. Ulai was also selected by the school's staff to give the vote of thanks on behalf of all the graduates.
"First of all I feel humbled," Dr. Ulai said in an interview with the Samoa Observer.
"I feel humbled by the fact that I have been blessed with such a supportive family, friends and colleagues at work."
"I am also feeling blessed by the almighty that this has finally come to an end after five years of studying."
Dr. Ulai continued on to give a heartfelt thanks to those who showed him support throughout his studies.
"First and foremost is God," he began.
"Second is my family, especially my wife Rosaina; she has really sacrificed a lot for me in getting my degree."
"She even sacrificed her career with the United Nations so that I may pursue and complete this; so I dedicate this achievement to her and my two lovely children Fiataupou and Eteuati."
"I would also like to dedicate this to the rest of my family; first and foremost my uncle (Lavea) Iosefa Maiava in Fiji. I guess he's one of the people I aspire to become in the future."
"Of course I haven't forgotten the love and support of the rest of my family."
Dr. Ulai continued on to give special thanks to his parents, Mulitalo Howard Fidow and Perelini Fidow; his grandmother Fiataupou and Olive for all their prayers and divine intervention; members of the E.F.K.S. church as well as the Samoa Medical Association which will be celebrating their 70th anniversary at the end of the month.
But even with all the love and support coming in from Samoa, Dr. Ulai admits that the journey was far from easy, and nothing was harder than being away from those he loves, his family.
"There were a lot of sacrifices," he began.
"Sacrifices in the sense that you leave your loved ones. I had to come for my diploma on my own so I had to readjust to the living on my own kind of life here in Fiji back in 2012 when I started."
"I would also like to recognize the sacrifice of my colleagues, especially my O&G team; doctors, nurses and midwives as well as those in the administration who have also supported me along the way."
And with this milestone, Dr. Ulai proves that with the right attitude, anything is possible.
"I hope I can inspire the locally-trained doctors at the Faculty of Medicine over at N.U.S and O.U.M," he said.
"I hope that as more graduate, they will pursue Post Graduate qualifications and Specialist training. This is all to help better the healthcare of the people in Samoa."
"I just can’t stress enough, the importance of perseverance and believing in yourself; believing in your family and especially believing that you can do anything."
"That's what I always try to share in any opportunity that I am given towards my family, colleagues or friends. You can be whatever you want if you really work hard and believe in yourself."
But where to from here for Dr. Ulai?
"There have been a few hints about working towards a PhD. so it looks like that will be the next target," he said with a grin.
"We will leave it to God."