The E.F.K.S Hall at Sogi was a place of rejoicing and thanksgiving on Monday night.
It was where hundreds of families and friends had gathered to celebrate the achievements of 48 sailors who had graduated from the Maritime Academy at Vaitele. Their course work was evenly divided between theory and practical work.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi congratulated them all.
“This is a great opportunity for all of us to pause and think about the work of seafarers and thank them for all their hard work,” he said.
As for the Maritime Academy, run by the Samoa Shipping Corporation, the Prime Minister said this continues to be the lifeline for ship-related work in Samoa.
He was particularly pleased with the growing number of students, noting that in 2013, 13 students graduated, 24 graduated in 2014 and now that number has increased again.
He was also happy to see the increasing number of females taking up the challenge.
“Gender equality means equal opportunities for all females and males and I am happy to see that more females are stepping up and choosing seafarers as a career path."
“So as we gather here today to celebrate another year of hard work and commitment, I would also like to encourage the graduates to keep up the good work. Remember, the end of a journey is the beginning of another journey.”
He reminded the graduates that a certificate is just a piece of paper.
“We will never know how good you are at your job until we see you do your job. So be honest and work hard.”
The Head of School for S.S.M.A, Vaisagone Elisaia Ioapo, said the students have worked extremely hard.
“I am proud of these students,” he said. “They’ve worked so hard to get here, and seeing the smiles on their faces and also their parents is just priceless.” Vaisagone echoed the excitement of Prime Minister Tuilaepa about having more girls in the programme.
“And for this year, we have a female who is graduating as an engineer and that we are very pleased to see the participation of girls.”
He also used the opportunity to encourage more girls to take up the challenge.
The top deck student, Junior Sevesi Pomaniana, said the journey wasn’t easy. “It was a tough ride, but I am glad that I made it to the top,” he said. “All glory to God because he made this happen for me and my fellow graduates.”
He also thanked the sponsors especially to the government of Australia for a grant that provided 25 scholarships for the students through the Samoa Qualification Association. The trophies and monetary awards were donated by Federal Pacific Insurance and S.S.A.B.