Family man dedicates graduation to late grandmother and parents
Family man Malagamali'i Kilapoe N. Sheppard has dedicated his university graduation to his late parents and grandmother who he says taiught him about the importance of education.
Malagamali'i is now a graduate of Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business and Romney Institute of Public Service & Ethics
He has graduated with a Master’s of Public Administration specialising in Government administration.
He was a former Senior Industry & Investment Officer for the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Labour (M.C.I.L.).
"Studying in and graduating from the highly ranked Marriott School of Business, Romney Institute of Public Service & Ethics MPA is one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences we’ve endured as a young family," he said.
"The programme aims to produce graduates that demonstrate an understanding of, passion for, and commitment to public service values, including reverence for the dignity and worth of all people and dedication to ethical governance,” he said.
The degree also emphasises the importance of gathering data and analysing it to evaluate recommend policies and programmes in the public sector.
"It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be a part of the program and being able to complete it is a blessing," added Malagamali'i.
He will be making his way back to Samoa in early March after he accepted a job offer and he is excited about coming back home.
"In early March 2021, I accepted an appointment to the position of Principal Policy Analyst for the Division for Public Service Performance and Policy of the Office of the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.),” he said.
“I am excited about this opportunity to make an impact, learn more, and give back to my country," he said.
From his humble beginning as a farmer, he learned the true value of education and said important, their hardest decision as a family was moving and leaving behind their careers, but he wanted to set a good example for his family.
"It is indeed an honour and a privilege to be a part of the program and being able to complete it is a blessing," said Malagamali'i.
"My late parents, Peniata and Salamalo Taupau, and my late grandmother, Numiamafaleupolu Fugalevi Matamua who instilled in me the value of education and service from a young age.”
Malagamali'i is from the village of Samata i Tai, Salega Savaii, and he is an alumnus of the Church College of Vaiola.
He also holds an undergraduate degree from the Brigham Young University of Hawaii, College of Business, Computing, and Government; an Associate’s degree in Business Management; and a Bachelor's degree in Political Science.
"It’s been a challenging journey full of opportunities for personal development,” he said.
“I grew up as a farm boy in a secluded geographical area of Savaii. After serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ, I went on to do my undergrad in Hawaii where I met and married my wife.
“I convinced her to move to Samoa with me where we started our careers.
“The decision to leave behind the careers we both embraced was not easy, but we want to teach our children the value of education by setting an example for them.
“I was fortunate to secure a full sponsorship with the help of the Cardon International and Romney Institute scholarships.
"Being an international student from a small country can be challenging in a fast-paced and technical learning environment.
“You don’t get special treatment because English is your second language. You are expected to write and communicate at a high professional level as everybody else.
“It took time to adjust to transitioning to hybrid learning. The safety of our young children was the top priority. However, things always work out in the end.”
Malagamali'i urges Samoan students to always prioritise their education.
"Don’t let financial constraints become a barrier to pursuing higher education—there is always financial assistance we can seek after,” he said.
“Constantly improve and never stop learning—it does not have to be in a classroom.
“Give back to your communities, even in small ways. Your education success should not be for personal benefits but the benefits of others. Whatever you do, be the best you can be.
He acknowledged everyone who supported his journey, especially his family.
"I [also] acknowledge the hands of the Lord in the process, the tremendous support of my dear wife and kids, my in-laws [and] families and friends, my professors [and] admin and cohort, mentors and former managers, and all those we've met during our unique graduate experience,” he said.