Malua's joint dux credits family for success
After four challenging years at Malua Theological College, Fenika Fa’alave, has emerged as its joint dux this year and one of two scholars bound for further study in Otago, New Zealand.
Mr. Faalave was awarded the top prize for the Bachelor's in Divinity Honours, an honour shared with Fetu Fetu, who also graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity Honours.
Mr. Faalave was presented with the Oka and Sooletaua Fauolo prizes; the Paulo and Uputuu Koria prize; the Risatisone Ete prize; the Tuipoloa Samuelu Memorial prize; the Keilani and Mere Tagoai Memorial Prizes and Malua Theological College prizes.
Mr. Faalave - who is a teacher by profession - is from the villages of Vaiala, Lotofaga, Fa'ala and Fusi Safotulafai.
The 33-year-old entered Malua with his Tongan wife, Amelia Tuna Faalave, 31, through their East Tamaki Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) parish.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer after the ceremony, Mr. Fa'alave did not claim rights to the achievements which were bestowed upon him on Saturday.
“It’s more of our family’s achievements, our churches and villages, everyone who has been involved,” he said.
“To us, it’s more for them; it’s the time for us to show them our appreciation for what they’ve done to support us and the goals and dreams of everyone else that put us through here and helped us get through the four years. So today is for them.”
Asked to name some challenges they faced in the last four years, the couple said they had come from every possible angle a person has: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
“The top one would just be thinking if this is the place to be; thinking if I should go back home because things are too hard,” Mr. Faalave said. “Everything becomes too hard, but prayers and talking to family and trying to find the strength to keep going is something that really makes it all count today.”
Although, for Mrs. Faalave, being away from home and immersed in a foreign environment was the biggest test.
“It’s been trying, coming to a different country and learning a whole new culture and whole new language especially when you're not familiar,” she said.
“But it’s been such an eye-opening experience, very beautiful place, and beautiful culture and being able to be welcomed with open arms has been one of the biggest things for me."
The couple were married in 2011 and have two children: Grace, 6, and Mercy, 2.
Other members of Mr. Fa’alave’s family have graduated from Malua.
But something that distinguished his term at the College is being blessed with a scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. at Otago University. Fetu was also awarded with a scholarship to pursue a Ph.D at the graduation ceremony.
Mr. and Mrs. Faalave say they will be relying on God’s guidance, just as when they began at Malua Theological College.
“So for us in the future, that’s the best way to go, even though there is a scholarship to think about and other things; everyone has dreams but I think the best way to go is to rely on God and see where He takes us, that way we don’t go wrong,” Mr. Faalave said.
The couple thanked their families local and overseas, who were not able to make it to their graduation reiterating, saying they had made Saturday’s event a possibility.
Diploma of Theology: Peniata and Gloria Lalau from Tuvalu and Pata Falelatai, Asoiva and May Saofa'i from Vaovai Saleilua and Gautavai, Talolua and Nessa Saia from Vaiusu, Solosolo, Siufaga, Faleula and Fasitoo uta.
Bachelor of Theology: Anesone Anesone from Alafua; Keti and Vetta Iupeli from Puleai and Vaigaga; David Atapana and Leah Mafua from Mulifanua, Falelatai, Falelatai, Siutu and Malie; Luulau and Faauiga Taulagi from Gautavai, Iva, and Lano; Emani and Naitosara Tevaga from Patamea and Apia; Maka Galuega from Atafu Tokelau; Ken and Temisa Titi from Vaiala, Tafua tai, Porirua and Atafu Tokelau; Mauola and Rona Taito from Vailuutai and Alafua, Moeava Mausali from Nukulaelae Tuvalu; Sinapati and Aomalu Sone from Solosolo and Lepa; Nuufaigata and La'ala'ai Peleiupu from Siutu, Salailua, Solosolo and Samauga; Tafatolu and Emelia Bentley from Leauvaa, Afega, Apolima and Laulii; Peniamina Toailoa from Laulii and Fasitoo uta, Tiafau and Lucy Vaega from Saaga, Paia, Sinamoga, Falelatai, Iva and Safotu; Salevao and Fa'aeafaleupolu Leone.
Bachelor of Divinity Honours: Fetu and Ilaisa Fetu from Laulii, Poutasi, Moataa and Saleimoa, Falepau and Caroline Tuiluga from Vailele, Fagalii, Matautu Falelatai and Sauano Fagaloa, Meafou and Sapia'i Auelua Ah Ching from Vaitele fou and Lepa; Paulo Sepuloni from Vailele and Fogasavaii.
* This story has been updated to reflect the fact that thee Malua Theological College Merit Prize was shared between Fenika Fa’alave and Fetu Fetu.