Do your best and let God do the rest.
Soteria Sekuini lives by this motto and it is one of the reasons for her success.
She was among the 428 students who graduated from the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) on Friday, attaining a double degree in Medicine and Surgery.
Five years of hard work paid off for the 24-year-old because she was also announced the Top Student in Medicine in the School of Medicine.
Dr. Sekuini is a former student of St Marys Primary School and St Mary’s College.
She is the eldest of four children of Vaele Paia’aua Iona Sekuini and Tupuola Matimaivasa Sekuini.
In 2011, following her Foundation studies at the N.U.S, she scored a scholarship to study at the Fiji School of Medicine.
Unfortunately, being her first time away from her family, she found it difficult to adjust and eventually returned home.
But her tenacious will to be a doctor persevered when after studying at the N.U.S. School of Medicine from 2012-2017, she finally achieved her goal.
She has her parents to thank for making her dream a reality.
“I was reluctant to come back, I put my pride before what I really wanted to do,” she told the Samoa Observer.
“I was going to take Dentistry but luckily mom and dad pushed me to come back and reminded me that I always wanted to become a doctor. Here I am today.
“So I came back and applied to Oceania University of Medicine (O.U.M. now the N.U.S. School of Medicine) and it was the best decision ever.”
Referring to what happened to her in Fiji, she said: “Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it. I couldn’t connect everything and I found it hard and plus it was very lengthy and I was new to everything, especially it was my first time away from families and it was my first time out of Samoa.”
But despite what happened then, she is thankful that she got to achieve her dreams with her parents and family by her side.
“I am honoured to become a graduate from the School of Medicine and for this, I also thank the Dean and lecturers and staff of the School of Medicine, for they have made us the doctors we are today,” she said.
But her journey hasn’t been easy and if it wasn’t for God, she wouldn’t have been where she is today.
“Yes, I got my scholarship through O.U.M. in 2012 which took six years with many challenges. Medical school is not easy, it requires a lot of your time and dedication and so not much time is spent at home and other occasions outside of Medical School,” she shared.
“It’s a selfish profession really, but why a doctor? I am thinking you are asking, because I spent most of my time when I was young at the hospital. My brother he was always sick and seeing the doctors helped him, it has always motivated me to become one.”
But despite the challenge to become a doctor, she strongly encourages other locals to take up studies at the N.U.S. School of Medicine.
“I 100 percent encourage our local students to take up studies in the school of medicine, not only does it have a curriculum that’s the same everywhere else in the world, but you get to practice medicine within our hospital and it gives us a chance to know our people better, to know how to communicate with them.”
Dr. Sekuini strongly believes one becomes a doctor “to treat our people in the best way we can offer, for our people deserve the best and I am proud and grateful for the opportunity to be able to help them”.
She acknowledged the presence of God first in her success and everyone for their support.
“I want to thank the staff of the School of Medicine, the Dean, Dr. Le Mamea Limbo, Dr. Malama Tafunai, Dr. Dyxon Hansell, Dr. Ben Matalavea, Dr. Faitasi Gaee, Veronica Wong, Matila and Tina and all the staff.
“Not only that, but also to my fellow graduating colleagues of Medicine 2018, all the Medical Students of the School of Medicine.
“Not forgetting all the doctors in the health sector within the T.T.M. hospital, fa’afetai tele, malo le tau!
“To my parents Paiaaua Iona and Matimaiava Sekuini, my grandparents, Paiaaua Vaivaa Sekuini and the late Tuunasoli Tuliese, the late Iula Pasia and my grandmother Sauimoana Itula, uncle Utaileuo Tui Itula and aunt Taofi Teo, thank you for everything and your encouragement from time to time.
“To my spiritual fathers at the C.C.C.S. Vaitele-Uta, the late Rev. Foma’i Lafaiali’i, Rev. Muao Fagasua and Rev. Lauititi in Matavai Safune, your prayers and support in so many ways have helped me endure the challenges and to achieve my dream of being a doctor.”
At the graduation, Dr. Sekuini spoke on behalf of the graduates.
“To the graduates of 2018, we made it,” Dr. Sekuini cheerfully said during her speech.
“We made it to this day, this day in which through all the years that we have studied in this university, it’s the day we all looked forward to.
“And how did we get to today? How did we get this degree?
“How did we get to wear this hat and gown? Well we certainly did not do it alone.
“We give thanks to God for He has guided us through every step we took.”
Dr. Sekuini also thanked the Government of Samoa for providing scholarships which enabled them to continue their education.
“To our mentors and lecturers, thank you for unselfishly sharing your time, talent and knowledge with us,” she said.
“Yes we know it was your job to do it, but what you did for us went beyond the call of duty, from the extra tutorials, the repeated explanations and not forgetting the repeated headaches.
“You demanded excellence from us whether or not we wanted to give it, and for that we thank you.
“To our parents, thank you for supporting us in more ways than one.
“You are our first teachers and will forever be our teachers and no words can express how each one of us graduates is thankful for your support throughout. We love you.
“To our families and friends, thank you for your support and guidance we could not have done it without you.
“To all our loved ones who have passed away, and could not be here, we know you’re all looking down on us, on this day, and we hope we’ve made you proud.
“Thank you, this is for you!
She cited the book of Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Dr. Sekuini ended with a quote “You cannot let the fear of failure, or a fear of comparison, or a fear of judgment stop you from doing the things that will make you great”.
Dr. Sekuini was among 10 other medical students who graduated from the School of Medicine this year.
Hailing from the villages of Matavai Safune, Saaga Siumu and Vaitele-uta, Dr. Sekuini is also a Sunday school teacher and church member of the Congregational Christian Church at Vaitele-Uta.