Young Samoan graduates with Masters in Hawaii

A young Samoan who has just graduated with her Masters from the University of Hawaii says education is the key to success.

Emma Delia Sinclair successfully attained a Master’s of Science in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science at the University's Hilo campus. The 22-year-old is the daughter of Fuimaono Nesa Te’o-Sinclair and Patrick Sinclair from the village of Vaivase-Uta. 

“I studied my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science for three years and my Masters for two years,” she told the Samoa Observer.

In February, the University announced that the official commencement ceremony was cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic. 

“After hearing that news, at first I was honestly disappointed but at the end of the day, people’s health is a priority and if that means cancelling the ceremony to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19, then I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“Graduation is a time to celebrate with family and friends so I was a little drawn back because my parents wouldn’t be making the trip over. But I had my sisters with me and a great group of friends so graduation didn’t feel so lonesome.”

Ms. Sinclair stated that during high school, she had very different aspirations.

“I was stuck on either becoming a nuclear engineer or an environmentalist and making a choice was hard but talking to a family friend regarding career aspirations helped a lot. 

“During our talk, I remembered him asking me ‘do you want to save the environment or do you want to play a part in destroying it?’ That question really sparked my interest in pursuing environmental science. In the end, I personally felt that being an environmentalist was a necessary field of study, especially in the Pacific region.”

She added that there are so many environmental challenges happening in our backyard and many more happening right in front of us such as climate change and rapid urbinization.  The young Samoan environmentalist said that she encountered numerous challenges during her educational journey.

“The major challenge for me was moving away from home for the first time and into a new foreign country," she said.

“Homesickness was hard to tackle for the first few months but I managed to overcome it by focusing on how my education was going to benefit myself and my family, this eventually pushed me to the finish line.

“To come out of home and tasting the real world that is entirely different from the world I see through my parents allowed me to become more independent.”

Due to border closures Ms. Sinclair is unable to return home.

“As a start, I’d like to return home once our borders open and pursue a job there.  It’s nice to be able to return and apply my educational experiences and knowledge to address environmental challenges in Samoa. The next step for me is to find opportunities and experience that will be able to advance my career in the environmental field.”

After graduating with two degrees, Ms. Sinclair expressed a sense of accomplishment which gives her a strong sense of self-fulfillment.

“I must admit, it was hard at first, I had to grow up faster and take on many responsibilities but I’m glad I have accomplished this milestone.”

She also acknowledged her family for supporting her since day one.

“They’ve given me the moral, financial, spiritual, and emotional support to keep going.”

Ms. Sinclair wholeheartedly believes that in the common saying that “education is the key to success.”

“Education provides us with knowledge about the world. It paves the way for a good career and it helps build character.

“You can gain education from anywhere, whether that is at home or in school.

“For anyone wanting to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree, it’s never too late or too early to start.”

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