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Students in Focus

Master of Arts Student - Jasmine Crystal Koria

Jasmine Crystal Koria – Embarking on a Postgraduate Journey.

Talofa everyone! I’m Jasmine, and I’m a first year Master of Arts student here in the Faculty of Arts, at the National University of Samoa. I’m also a member of the Faculty of Arts, teaching English language and Literature. I am of Samoan and Papua New Guinean (P.N.G) descent. My late father, Eteuati Koria was from Satupaitea, Lelepa, Lotopa, Alafua and Tanugamanono. My mother, Daisy Evara-Koria, is from the Gulf (Baimuru) and Eastern Highlands (Kompri) Provinces, in P.N.G. I completed all my primary and secondary education in Samoa. After the Foundation Year at NUS I was awarded a New Zealand Aid scholarship to study at Victoria University, Wellington New Zealand. In 2017 I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, International Relations and English Literature.

I developed a passion for writing and critical thinking very early in life, thanks to my parents who were both educators. They encouraged free thinking and debate issues that affected our lives then. .   At Vic I contributed to the newly introduced Pasifika students’ column in the university’s student magazine, Salient. I progressed on to writing feature articles about the struggles of Pasifika People, particularly on issues such as religion (Christianity and indigenous beliefs), gender (the role language in perpetuating harmful stereotypes and violence), education (the struggles of the local scholarship student when placed in a new/foreign environment without their family and support system), and race (issues such as colourism, stereotyping, ethnocentrism and life as a Pasifika person of mixed/bi-racial descent). This was an awesome experience, and when I graduated in 2017, I realized that many of these issues  also needed to be  articulated in a local, home context. So I have always wanted to explore these ideas further through a postgraduate research and contribute to the growing scholarship on various aspects of Pacific people’s living experiences.

I was very excited to learn that a Master of Arts program was in the works because this would be a great opportunity for me to pursue the research I wanted and to further develop my career prospects. It will be a journey of self discovery as well.  I am a little nervous but that is natural. I know that I have a great team of scholars here who will mentor me and shape my ideas. I like this ‘grow your own’ approach at NUS because it suits my situation.  I do not have to leave home which is such a wonderful opportunity that is now available for us here on island. I encourage anyone who might be reading this and considering studying towards a postgraduate qualification locally to come and voyage with us. The vast Pacific ocean of knowledge is fully accessible from our own home shores.

As I embark on this journey as a postgraduate student I think about my parents’ experiences and their sacrifices. They were both the first in their families to be university graduates and I take this step with them in my mind, always.  Ia tapuai mai!

Graduating Bachelor of Arts Student - Nifo Tafuna’i

NAME: Nifo Kuresa Tafunaí

Bachelor of Arts student, majoring in English and Sociology.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Nifo Kuresa Tafunai. I am 21 years of age, and I come from Sataua, Savaii. It’s been four years since I left home for studies here at the University. I was able to graduate with my Foundation Certificate of Arts in 2018, and I started my first year of the Bachelor of Arts programme in 2019. To be honest, I never thought I could make it this far, but thank the Lord I have successfully completed all my courses.

It has been a long and exhausting journey but I have always been determined. I have also received great support from my family and friends. Speaking of family, I credit my spiritual parents who have made a huge difference in my academic life. To tell you the truth, without their help I probably would not be here.

How has your choice of study helped you?

Planning projects and researching interesting topics in our country have been the highlights of most of my courses. Last year, in the three hundred level papers, we conducted several projects on campus which greatly improved both my grammar and my understanding of other people’s work- especially looking at how ideas and information from the past have shaped the issues we are facing today.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

I encourage Foundation Arts and General students at NUS to stay on and enroll in the BA programme. Foundation is only the first step of the journey.  If I can do it, you can do it too. Think positively! Prepare yourself for every challenge you will face. No matter what happens, you must never lose hope.

Nifo is one of FOA’s resilient students. He also worked part-time whilst studying full-time at NUS.

Current Bachelor of Arts Student - Randy Smith

NAME: Randy Smith

Bachelor of Arts student, majoring in Sociology and Geography.

 Tell us about yourself.

Talofa lava! My name is Randy Smith (AKA Ari), and I am a proud 20- year- old Fa’afafine from Manase, Savaii. I am a third-year student working on completing my Bachelors of Arts degree, and double majoring in Sociology and Geography. I hope to finish this year, 2022.

 How has your choice of study helped you?

The majors Sociology and Geography have taught me a lot. They are very different in terms of content, but they are both very important disciplines and I do not regret choosing to study them together. Learning about the complex society and discovering hidden connections in our environment are my passions. I have also learned critical thinking skills, and am always reminded to think deeply about global challenges such as climate change, social challenges like gender inequality, as well as issues such as social stratification and unemployment.

 What advice would you give to prospective students?

As an Arts student, I encourage my fellow FOA students to major in one or both of these fields. Subjects such as Geography and Sociology can open up your mind to the world and the challenges faced by people and our environment.  We as Arts students have great potential to formulate and recommend possible strategic methods to combat these problems.

Randy is also a member and Peer Mentor for the Peer2Peer Initiative Group, offering social and academic support to students.

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