Vaimoso resident graduates with masters degree

A 31-year-old woman from the village of Vaimoso has graduated with a masters degree in science (in tropical plant and soil sciences) from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Dolly Autufuga is the daughter of the late Simi Autufuga and Line Neira Autufuga of the village of Vaimoso.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Ms Autufuga said she’s dedicating her award to everyone which contributed to her journey.

“To all members of my family, friends and everyone who helped out throughout my academic journey, this is our achievement together,” she said.

She graduated from LDS Church College of Pesega and the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and studied for a bachelors at the University of the South Pacific (Samoa Campus) for three years before going on to do her master’s degree at the University of Hawaii for two and a half years.

“When I was in high school, I was a full science student and I wanted to be either a biochemist or a laboratory research technician,” Ms Autufuga told the Samoa Observer in an interview. 

“My dream has changed slightly within the field of science and now I have a great interest in soil science.”

A recipient of the United States South Pacific Scholarship through the East West Center in Hawaii, Ms Autufuga faced a lot of challenges throughout her academic journey. 

And being away from home was not easy for her but she always reminds herself that she’s there for a reason.

“This is not just for myself but for my family and the people who are constantly praying and supporting me from home,” she added. 

Even taking on the field of science as a science student wasn’t easy, especially soil science which she said wasn’t easy.

“Having a clear mindset with interest and passion for what I wanted to do helped me focus and get to where I am today.

“I started my master studies in Hawaii before the pandemic but when Covid struck, a lot of changes had to be made by switching to virtual learning, social distancing etc which were quite challenging,” she added.

Ms Autufuga then credited her mother and families in Samoa for being her major support system; for their constant encouragement; prayers and wishes while she was away from home. Not only to succeed in her studies but to be safe and well.

The recent graduate then revealed that her mother, Line Neira Autufuga and her best friend had been there for her every step of the way.

“My mother knows all of my difficulties and I miss her so much. Every time I call my family back home and hear my nieces calling out for me, I always get emotional.

“I know I’m missing out on a lot of things going on back home but I’m happy knowing they are safe and happy.”

She also expressed her gratitude to her friends who supported her throughout her academic journey as well as her professors who provided her with guidance.

“My professors are always willing to help me to understand and give me advice every step of the way.”

The Covid-19 pandemic also came with uncertainty of when she could graduate and whether she could return back home. 

Ms Autufuga was supposed to graduate in December 2020 but due to travel restrictions and for her safety her scholarship was extended for another semester.

She has since been accepted to continue her PhD studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and then she was now able to graduate this Spring 2021 semester.

And the Vaimoso resident is determined as well to continue her PhD studies in the next semester at the University of Hawaii for the next three to four years. 

“It was sad not being able to see families and friends back home for this special moment but I know they were here for me spiritually.”

Ms Autufuga will continue her PhD studies in the next semester in the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, focusing on breadfruit and quality and post harvest.

“Hopefully, there will be no more Covid-19 and I will graduate with a PhD. I am looking forward to my family and friends attending that ceremony,” she said.

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