Journalism lecturer graduates with master's

A journalism lecturer at the National University of Samoa has graduated with a master's degree in development studies.

The head of the N.U.S. Media and Journalism Department, Misa Victoria Lepou, was among 400-plus graduates who were conferred with degrees at the university’s annual graduation last Wednesday.

A recipient of a master's degree in development studies, the academic told the Samoa Observer of her academic journey and the challenge of juggling priorities while pursuing her studies.

“What I went through is the same as those who have been through it and those who have yet to complete it, the only difference is how you get to the end and say that you made it,” Misa said. 

“There are those who have the opportunities to go away and study and there are those who can do it online.

“But there are those of us who are fortunate enough to do part-time studies not by choice but because our situations bound us to responsibilities of caring for our families.”

Misa’s upskilling began in 2018 when she graduated with a postgraduate diploma in development studies with her studies for a master's degree already underway.

The role and responsibilities of the media were not lost on her as she studied, and she told this newspaper that there is a greater need to pay attention to the creation of a safer knowledge-building community, as more development stories are published.

She said journalism continues to play a phenomenal role in development issues now facing small island countries like Samoa and this can be done by delving into the issues, theories, principles and the ideas behind policy-making as well as decisions.

“It is always easy to push so many young people to aim high and never give up but if the means to get them there are not available to them then we fail as a society,” said Misa.

“I cannot stress enough how those endless trips to N.P.F. have paid off and that’s because I work.  

“For those young people without jobs or have had their dreams dashed because their parents cannot afford or they just could not, there is always help out there.

“We just need to get that help out there by sharing information about scholarship opportunities and directing them to the right contacts.”

And the academic says she has seen instances of people engaging in political debate on social media without shifting their focus to educational opportunities and helping the less fortunate in the community.

“This is an area that a lot of countries have taken on board that its impacts have become too substantial for vulnerable societies with limited access to information on policies, consultations, ideas, and legislation.

“We need to pay attention as media practitioners and educators to these issues; we don’t just talk about it and neglect it.  

“The speed at which misinformation on development issues travel through social media is overwhelming. 

“There are a lot of education issues to address as a journalism educator. 

“Befitting journalism to development issues is an area to specialise in and stay on course by following the issues.”

Currently, the sole lecturer in the university’s reinstated media and journalism programme, Misa is of the view that many potential journalism students have very basic knowledge of everything happening around them.

“It’s very concerning when we have young people coming into this program with very limited knowledge about their own society, so we offered to do more outside of the curriculum to get them interested than just writing news,” she said.

“To get that news story, one needs to know more than what is seen, one needs to be passionate about something to get it done.”

She believes her journey as a student has also inspired students in the media and journalism department.

“This journey has helped motivate our students to encourage their families to provide for them and vice versa.  

“The university offers so many programs and opportunities to get there, nothing comes in handy these days, you just need to be patient and stay motivated, regardless. 

“I am always grateful to be surrounded by supportive families and friends.  

“There have been ups and downs especially when managing time between work, home and finding quality time to do write-ups and rest.”

Misa also used the opportunity to pay tribute to her father, Lepou Petelo II, who is one of five candidates running for the Faleata No.1 seat.

“You know, our parents are always there for us, my father has never been to any of my prize-givings in my school days, it has always been my mother.  

“You can’t always blame him for working hard to provide for us in those days but if there is one thing he never missed, it is his rosary day and night. 

“Seeing the need for more young people to receive formal and non-formal education opportunities makes him proud to prioritize education as one of his intentions to run for the elections.”

Misa also credited the former Government for what she described as “runways” of education in a bid to upskill the population.

“Let me also say that the government has paved the way for more runways, we just need to provide the traffic and reach the end,” she said.

“The N.P.F. education scheme has been responsive to those many requests.  

“Credit is also due to all my supervisors and lecturers, university support staff, and management.

“To my church, parish priests, deacon Etilasi and Aniva Eti, may the good lord bless you abundantly.”

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