“Do not sell yourself short; you’re off to great places today. So today is your day, your mountain is waiting to get in your way.”
That was Romalani Leofo’s poetic message to all the future graduates of the University of Queensland as she finished off her academic years with a bang.
Growing up in a large family of five children including herself, she made it her mission to aid her parents with their financial problems by paying for her own school tuition fees by gaining a scholarship.
This personal mission of hers, in time, proved to be a difficult one with numerous sleepless nights, sacrifices and tribulations.
So how did she manage to pull it off?
It all began in Samoa College, which was where she was fortunate enough to find out what her true priority was - education.
She then continued her thirst for knowledge through Foundation at the National University of Samoa and that’s where her hard work and commitment paid off.
Mrs Leofo was then nominated to be one of the worthy candidates who were chosen for an unforgettable experience studying abroad, courtesy of the Australian Awards Scholarship.
“I was supposed to finish last year, so I graduated with a Bachelors in Commerce degree.” She said.
“However, I was then awarded one more year as an Honours student, so I did that and graduated this year with a Bachelor of Commerce, First Class Honours.”
Dedicated to making her family proud, Mrs. Leofo used her family as her main tool of motivation and whenever she missed them, which was often.
She said that her family means the world to her and she would do anything in her power to guarantee their safety and the futures of her siblings.
“Of course there is that debt to your parents which you can never repay, and no matter what you do you still feel like you’re not doing enough.”
For Mrs. Leofa, while this debt was realized long ago and she cannot seem to shake the recurring feeling of not doing enough.
Nevertheless, she tried her very best to give something back to her family by concentrating on her studies and the countless sacrifices of fun when she decided to put her social life on hold.
However, not only was she in it to make her family proud, but she was also doing it out of a fantastic habit of commitment, a commitment of achieving every goal that was present in her mind.
That habit of commitment was passed down to her, unintentionally by her parents.
“Just observing them pursue their dreams and not letting anyone or anything hold them back was enough to make me want to follow in their footsteps” she said.
“Children tend to mimic their parents actions and attitudes, that’s why I’m so grateful to have such hard working and honest parents.”
Showcasing all the right attitudes a student should have towards their academic life, Mrs. Leofo was awarded the High Achievers award for her efforts in and out of the classroom.
This got her thinking of further pursuing her academic studies in the future by tackling a PhD degree, but for now, she believes the best thing she can do is give back.
“I’m thinking of doing my PhD in the future, but right now I’m just giving back to the Samoan community because it played a major role in making this experience and degree possible” she said.
“I knew my family wouldn’t be able to pay for my education as a private student.”
“I am one of five siblings after all.”
“That’s the reason why I dedicated my all to getting that scholarship, so my parents could relax and spend a little more on my brothers and sisters future.”
Hardships she encountered, Mrs. Leofo said was missing her family.
When it came down to the transition from living with her loving family to living alone in a different country, all she could do was miss home more and more as the days passed by.
Although the students and teaching council treated her with utmost respect and hospitality, nothing seemed to fill that empty void in her heart, the void that was meant to be filled by her families presence.
“I missed my family very much and I was very homesick during my first year.” She said.
“However, living away from my family became a little easier as the work got harder”
“All glory to God because it was perseverance and the caring help of our Lord that delivers us from anything in our life”