Age is not a barrier. Ask 41- year-old Liufau Ioata Tanielu, of Vaiala and Auala, Savai’i, and he will tell you.
Liufau received the Telefoni Retzlaff Memorial Prize for Top Samoan Law Student yesterday during the University of the South Pacific’s graduation at the E.F.K.S Hall, Sogi. He was among more than 100 students conferred degrees, diploma and certificates.
For Liufau, it was an emotional moment.
“I can’t find the right words to describe how I’m feeling right now,” he said.
“But all I can say is that I am very humbled and happy. It came as a surprise to me to be announced as the top law student.
“I have been fighting this battle for quite some time now and I thank God that I have come to the end of this.”
With all of his successes, Liufau said it hasn’t been smooth sailing all along.
“The most difficult challenge for me is being away from my children my wife and my whole family because I am what they called a matured student or an older student,” he said.
“It was hard because I was missing my family especially my kids but I knew I had to finish what I started and to be a good role model to my children.
“I wanted to set a good example for my kids and let them know that you can get anything in life if you work hard for it.”
Another difficult challenge for Liufau was the lack of finance.
“I did not qualify under the scholarship standards of our country. It’s not a bad thing but it was unfortunate that I wasn’t qualified which means I was self-supported.
“This also means that I had to find my own sponsors to sponsor my studies and that’s where my family comes in. They played a big role in me pursuing my studies and I wouldn’t be able to get this far if it wasn’t for their support.”
Liufau said he started in 2008.
“I first studies law in 2008 for a diploma in prosecution and I graduated,” he said.
“I studied at different places including Laucala Campus but as for this programme it was a 3 year programme and I went through it in Vanuatu.”
Asked what advice he would offer the young ones, he said: “It doesn’t matter what you want to do or become, if you want it, go and get it.
“Age doesn’t matter, all you need is the will to do it work hard and you will reap with joy in the end.
“Like me I saw an opportunity and I took and for a long time all I could do is pursue it and keep resisting and hope one day I will see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
He also acknowledged the support of his family, his parents Dr. Leali’ifano Iopu Tanielu who sponsred him, Niuafolau Fauolegogo Patū and his wife Mele Mose.
“I also want to thank some people who supported me including Taimalie Charlie Westerlund and Alex Brunt, my pastors for their prayers, Rev. Kirisimasi Sani, Rev. Lotu Uele, Rev. Moamoa Vaeao and Rev. Faauuga and all my families and friends for all your support.
Liufau is married to Mele Mose and they have four children.