Tunufai Ah Leong makes family proud

Tunufai Ah Leong from Leauva’a and Fagamalo has made his family very proud this Christmas.

Especially his mother, Dr. Esmay Judith Ah Leong.

Tunufai has successfully completed college with flying colours at St Paul’s in Auckland, New Zealand. He was the second top overall student, on top of scoring the highest marks in religious education, statistics, physics and economics. 

“For preschool he was at Vaiala, and then to Samoa Primary and then Robert Louis Stevenson Secondary School, and then I decided to take him to New Zealand after their first term,” Dr. Ah Leong said.

“I’ve always wanted him to go to St. Paul’s College in Auckland, and he started around May last year. He is 18, and born in Fiji.

“He took science, economics and statistics. Usually when you take subjects you focus only one commerce, arts, science, not with this kid. Because he was good with numbers it was only natural for him to take statistics, physics, and economics.”

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Dr. Ah Leong said Tunufai hopes to be an economist.

“I try not influence what my son wants to learn. I guess because of my field, but I have never told him what to do. I believe in encouraging and supporting at what he’s good at. He is good with numbers,” she said.  

“Deciding for university, I am for Auckland University, but he’s for Auckland University of Technology, but he got offers from both universities. AUT is a Bachelor in Commerce majoring in Economics and Computer Science and Information systems. 

“I’m only guiding him. He’s accepted A.U.T. He prefers AUT because it’s more hands on, there’s a lot of practical work.”

Being a single parent and raising her only child was not an easy task, but all her sacrifice and hard work has paid off. 

“It was hard. I remember when I had it that was my last year of med school, I graduated and returned and work. I took him to work when I was doing my internship. It was hard but I think that has paid off.”

Her advice to parents is to invest in their children, not rely too much on Government scholarships, and to always support them with their decisions. 

“I was paying about NZ$6,000 -$7,000 (T$10,711 – T$12,496) a year for tuition, not counting accommodation so that would have amounted to NZ$20,000 - $30,000 (T$35,705 – (T$53,558). It wasn’t cheap but I knew it was good investment,” Dr. Esmay said. 

She added even though St Paul’s was not one of the best schools, she wanted her only child to experience a Catholic upbringing and to feel the spirit of the Marist Brothers. 

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