Family's joyful quarantine wait

A Vaoala family has been waiting for their son to emerge from quarantine to celebrate his greatest achievement yet: attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Science from Otago University. 

Ned Kolone Collins only told his family the news about his graduation shortly before he boarded a flight for Samoa at the beginning of this month. 

His family were ecstatic to learn he had fulfilled all the requirements for the degree and a major in Physiology. 

But they have had to wait for him to finish the two-week quarantine process before being able to celebrate. 

The 23-year-old said his journey through university was challenging, but it was a desire to return home with the gift successfully completing his studies, which drove him to focus and succeed.

But that did not stop the young scholar from encountering substantial challenges. Health problems forced him to take time off from school, which lengthened the time it took for him to conclude his degree to five years. 

“My faith and family have been my biggest inspirations throughout my journey: just knowing that I can give something back to them when I get back from the scholarship,” he said. 

“Now that I’ve [returned to] my family [and] come to a conclusion, it feels like a great achievement.

“I am just grateful for the opportunity from the University (N.U.S) that I got to study abroad and I am just happy to be back with my family. 

“I was looking forward to coming back.”

Mr. Collins was unable to attend his official ceremony but he said the most important part of his graduation was sharing the news with his family - something he could no longer bear to wait. 

Picking their son up after he concluded the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Samoa, was an emotional reunion for the Collins family last Friday.

Discussing the challenges that he faced on his journey, Mr. Collins said it is never easy to study away from home. 

“It’s hard for you at first but as the years go by of missing your family, you’ll believe in yourself and have great faith that you’ll achieve your goal and make it regardless of no matter how hard,” he said. 

“Some of the challenges were mostly being away from home and trying to adapt to a new environment and the learning environment was different as well.”

Asked about his time in quarantine, the 23-year-old said it was a perfect 14 days of quiet relaxation.

“We stayed in our rooms the whole time and followed the protocols from [the Ministry of] Health and it was good,” he said. 

“All the [coronavirus] tests came back negative so it was good.

“It was not exhausting but [I] was just anxious to get out and see my family.”

Now the next step for Mr. Collins is to take some time to work and help  his family, before returning to further study. 

Mr. Collins is the son of Su’eala and Navy Collins and has only one sibling - a sister, Esther Collins. 

A graduate of Samoa College, Mr. Collins completed his Foundation Year at N.U.S.

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