For Avele College's dux, an emotional journey
Some days Gloria Amosa Laufili did have any lunch to bring school. But she never let going hungry - or any other challenges - dampen her enthusiasm for learning and was rewarded for her hard work in spades on Thursday.
Ms. Laufili topped four subjects at Avele College and was named the school's overall dux - which is something of a family tradition.
Thirty years ago, it was her father, Christoph Tiedemann who topped the very same school.
The 18-year-old of Vaoala, who attended the college from year 9 to year 13, has been its top student for four years in a row.
"Today is surprising but my achievements [included] first place in English, Computer Studies, History, Geography, first in class and the overall dux," she told the Samoa Observer on Thursday.
"Ever since my journey here in Year 9, I’ve been the dux here in Year 9, 10 and then I skipped year 11 and was also the dux last year and now at the end, I’m the dux again."
The top student described emotionally how she felt to have come through what her father had gone through 30 years ago.
"It’s been a great honor and privilege to be following my dad’s footsteps and it hasn’t been easy to follow these kind of footsteps because if it weren’t for my parents and their support, and if weren’t for my dad’s constant push and telling me to give my best in my academic journey, I wouldn’t be here today," she said while crying.
Ms. Laufili described facing several challenges in the course of graduating from college over the past four years and leaning on people who motivated her to strive for the best.
She said many sacrifices were made along the way, including so many sleepless nights, but Ms. Laufili said it was all worth it in the end.
As her college education came to an end for Ms. Laufili and her graduating class of 2020, she said she would begin to prepare for university next year.
"I am very devastated to leave because there are a lot of people here that I’m going to miss, especially my [art class], I’m going to miss them so much," the 18-year-old said.
"I’m not sure what I want as a career right now, I’m just [taking things] step by step and when I get there, then I’ll know what I want to do next year but my goal for now as an achievement is for next year to get a scholarship and go somewhere for school.
"I’m not sure yet but somewhere in New Zealand or Australia, America or even in England. I believe that with prayers and hard work, I can get myself there to any university that’s there."
She said the weight of expectation on her shoulders did not make her final year an easy one. Ms. Laufili admitted that she even doubted her abilities and potential at times.
"There were a lot of times that I told myself that I couldn’t do it anymore, especially this year; there was a lot of pressure on me and because it was my last year; I had to ace it for everyone and everyone was waiting for me for this day to come," she said
"It's proof of [the worth of] all the sacrifices that I made throughout this whole year."
School was always the priority for the top student and the value of education was constantly emphasised by her supportive parents even as she juggled it with extracurricular activities.
"For my parents, their priority for me is to always put school first and all the other things they come after," Ms Laufili added
"It was hard balancing everything at one time, especially since I’m involved in a lot of church activities, youth, worship team and then balancing chores at home and also trying to balance with my schoolwork.
"My parents would always put my work first and whatever the school had to do or I had to do, they would always jump in at that time and tell me: 'OK we have to put your school first, school comes first'.
"So it was a good balance with a lot of people supporting me, especially my parents."
Ms. Laufili is the only girl and has seven brothers. She said that she had never felt pressured but rather motivated and cared for by her siblings.
"My brothers are usually the ones who tell me to always take my time and always relax. They’re the ones who are always there at my worst times and the ones who I could share to and can put a smile on my face year after year and now with my achievements," she said
"I’m so glad that I finally achieved this for them and I can finally make them proud of me because all my brothers think highly of me and I appreciate them so much for all the support.
"They have never pressured me to do anything, and have always told me to always do my best and to always be myself."
Some days she has had to go to school without any lunch as there were financial struggles in her family, but that did not dampen her strive to succeed but rather made her determined to provide for her family in the future.
"There were financial difficulties along the way, especially when I come to school. Some days I would come to school and I wouldn’t have any lunch but then my parents would always do their best and would always give me some money for me when I come to school but then it wasn’t what I wanted," Ms. Laufili added
"All I wanted was to come to school and do my work, and achieve so that I can give back to them for all the sacrifices they have made for me."
Ms. Laufili had attended Coronation College in Papua New Guinea before she came to Samoa and attended Avele College in 2017. Her parents are Christoph Tiedemann and Matele Tiedeman.