Fusi woman attains master's, dedicates degree to grandmother

Robbed by the pandemic of the rare opportunity to celebrate the completion of a Master’s degree with her parents living in Fusi, Saoluafata, Nadine Mika Vaafuti remains positive and looks forward to putting her new qualification to use in service to God and man.

Ms. Vaafuti, the daughter of Mataafa Euta and Nellie Vaafuti, who live in Fusi, Saoluafata, Samoa, has earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from La Sierra University in Riverside, California. 

She chose the field of education because of love – a love of service and a love for learning. 

“[It’s] the love of providing service to others, the love of learning, the opportunity to create lifelong learners who care about themselves, family and country, the ability to make an impact in someone else's life,” Ms. Vaafuti told the Samoa Observer from Vista, California, United States.

“And the chance to develop and strengthen character – it makes me passionate about teaching and education. Teaching, education is not just a career or pursuing a certain course of study, but it’s a calling to be of service to God and man.”

Samoa’s borders are still closed due to State of Emergency (S.O.E.) COVID-19 restrictions and her parents are unable to make the trip to California to celebrate.

But Ms. Vaafuti who claims five villages in Upolu and Savai’i – Fusi in Saoluafata, Asau, Sauano in Fagaloa, Vaovai and Sili – is taking it all in stride. 

She used to reside on campus as La Sierra as an international student but due to the pandemic, she moved out to stay with her grandmother Ana Nese Fuatavai who she regards as a role model and inspiration.

“The pandemic robbed me of the chance to share graduation memories and celebration with my parents Mataafa Euta and Nellie Vaafuti, and siblings, my families in Samoa and other countries. However, I was content because I have my grandmother, Ana Nese Fuatavai, who is an inspiring role model, and who has stood by me since the beginning of my academic journey here at La Sierra University,” she said.

“My parents may not be here, but I'm grateful for the outpouring love and care that was shown by my relatives, church family and the Samoan community here in Vista, California. I dedicate my success to my grandmother Ana Nese Fuatavai, to my Fuatavai and Vaafuti Family. All in all, place God in the center of it all, because where God guides, He provides!”

Ms. Vaafuti will work toward her teaching credentials so she can teach in California.

“I’m on my teaching credentials – to be able to teach in California for a year or two, to gain teaching and administrative experience in the education system here in the States,” she said.

“I hope my story inspires the young people to pursue further studies and to never stop learning.”

Ms. Vaafuti plans to study for her PhD in Education.

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