Success needs sacrifice: graduate tells Savai'i students

It can be tough for Savai’i islanders who have to live away from the big island in order to attend the National University of Samoa.

But the sacrifice of living away from the comforts of home and family was worth it according to Vaimoli Tapelu of Fagamalo Savai’i, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in commerce at the N.U.S. graduation last Wednesday.

She said the challenge of living away from home should not become a distraction for Savai’i students, who should use it as a motivation to keep going and succeeding.

"Getting capped was not easy to get, especially for someone like me who comes from Savai’i,” she said.

“The challenge was too much for me. Sometimes I felt like giving up and going back to Savai’i to my family as the life here in Upolu is very much different from the life I lived on the big island.

"Staying with a different family instead of your parents was another challenge I had to live with for three to four years.

“But all these struggles, I would always think of my parents and siblings’ sacrifices in order for me to be here in N.U.S so with that thought I kept on grinding. 

“It was one hell of a ride for me.”

The youngest of the six children, Ms Tapeli  knew that her family was not well off and she was determined to conquer the world to make a better life for her family.

Entering the university in 2017, she lived away from her family and it was difficult trying to adapt, on top of being “looked down on” simply because she was from Savai’i.

“But the picture of my parents and my siblings’ sacrifices made me want to continue as I look back to my journey, every day I struggled,” she added.

“But then I know that my siblings went through so much just so I can continue my studies and reached my goal. 

“My family is not well-off so my siblings paid for my tuition for my whole academic journey in N.U.S.”

She reiterated that sometimes she felt sorry for her family and what they had to go through in order for her to achieve her dreams. 

“But they (family) never stopped encouraging me to go further and continue on," she said.

A very social person, Ms Tapelu also thanked her circle of friends for the encouragement and motivation during her academic journey. 

“When I was in N.U.S. I was part of the school dance group and am still part of it. I am also part of the Brown Girl Woke group.

“I am also one of the mentors for the Peer-to-Peer group. 

It has helped a lot in my line of work and I am so blessed to have surrounded myself with such amazing souls.”

Ms Tapelu currently works at the BDO Chartered Accountant in Apia, though she has indicated that she intends to return to postgraduate studies at the university after gaining work experience.

But not before turning to her parents for making sacrifices in order for her to finish her studies.

"I want to say thank you to my parents Faletui and Tapeli for sacrificing so much for me, my siblings for paying my tuition, and for pushing me to go hard on my studies. 

“Thank you to our former Church Minister and his wife, Sileli Tauaifaiga and Mele. 

“To our current church minister Taulotoga Viliamu and Sago for their prayers and words of encouragement when we come over during school holidays."

Ms Tapelu’s older sister also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education.

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