Head girl tops Amoa College
Leaders lead from the front and for the Head Girl of Amoa College in Savai'i, Susana Arasi of Saipipi was that leader in 2020.
In front of family, friends and the students she led, the eldest of Utumata Arasi and Fuapepe's seven children was declared the School Dux for 2020 on Thursday.
Topping her class in English, computer studies, economics, accounting and mathematics, Ms Arasi was also given special prizes for head prefect, 2020 sport women, and the best all-year-round student.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer after the graduation ceremony, the 17-year-old immediately credited God for her success.
"I know I would not have made it this far if it weren't for his guidance and protection upon me," Ms. Arasi said.
"I am overjoyed with happiness and I cannot explain how I feel today. It's been a tough journey for me, but I give thanks to him who made this possible for me."
The reserved teen also acknowledged the support of her parents and family, saying it “took a village” to raise her as a child.
"People say it takes a village to raise a child and today, I can proudly say that this achievement is the result of the hardworking people, whose hands raised and nurtured me to be the person I am today.
"My beloved parents who are my greatest blessings and inspirations, my great grandma, my grandmother on my dad's side, and also my grandparents on my mom's side.
"Their ongoing prayers for me is why I am where I am today. I also want to thank my relatives and everyone who supported me and encouraged me all throughout my journey."
Becoming the school dux was Ms. Arasi’s main goal since the beginning of the year. As it was her way of showing gratitude towards her family and parents for their ongoing support and love.
"This is the least I could do, to repay their love and kindness. I hope I made them proud."
When asked to describe her final year in college in one word, Ms. Arasi replied: "Challenging!”
"That's the perfect word to describe my academic journey this year.
"There were so many obstacles and challenges along the way. I had to sacrifice and balance studies and all the other duties and obligations that were given to me.
"But I am humbled to have achieved this and as I said before, the glory goes back to God."
Asked if she is ready for the next chapter of her life, Ms. Arasi said she has to focus on the Samoa Secondary Leaving Certificate exam.
"As you may have been aware, we still have exams left. That is my priority at the moment. I will give it my best so I can get an opportunity to go to University next year. But it is all up to God to decide what the next step for me will be."
Though her mother’s career as a teacher has already had an impact on her and the choices she intends to make for the future.
"Growing up, my mother has been my inspiration," she told the Samoa Observer. "Therefore, I want to follow her footsteps and become a teacher just like her."
Her mother, Mrs Arasi described her eldest daughter as a quiet and obedient child.
"She is difficult sometimes, but that's our job as parents to keep reminding them of what to do and what not to do. It is our job as parents to make sure that they are in the right direction and guide them,” she added.
"The one thing that we keep telling her is to put God first in everything she does. That is the foundation of any child's life and that was the message we kept telling Susana.
"We've been strict with her and taught her to be independent because there will come a time when she has to stand on her two feet and paddle her own canoe."
While Mrs. Arasi says she will miss her daughter when she goes to university next year, the proud mother anticipates seeing what the future holds for her eldest daughter.
"There is a long journey ahead of her and we continue to pray to God to guide her through all the obstacles and challenges in life.
"We are looking forward to seeing what God has in store for her in the coming years."