After enduring what she describes as a three-year “roller-coaster” journey, Lisi Julia Andrews Uluvaga is finally proud to reach her destination – receiving her graduation certificate from the Fiji National University (FNU).
The 24-year-old recently graduated with a Bachelor of Education (Primary) from FNU’s College of Humanities and Education (CHE). The soft-spoken Uluvaga, who is a daughter, sister, wife and mother, said she was excited to achieve her life-long dream and add a teacher to the list of words describing herself.
Whilst shy at first to share her story, Uluvaga did not hold back when acknowledging her childhood ambition and the support of her immediate and extended family.
“As far as I can recall, teaching was always a profession I admired deeply because through my days at primary and high school I have crossed paths with a lot of teachers who had great qualities,” she reflected. “I believe that the qualities I saw in my teachers back then are the reasons I am in this profession.”
“Even after marrying my husband Timi and having our son, I still held on to this dream, and after encouragement from Timi and my family, I enrolled in the programme in 2018.”
“I come from a family where things did not come easy for us, so to have their support meant so much. My graduation and qualification is not just a personal achievement as I get to celebrate it with my whole family.” She said her family in Kasavu, Savusavu and in-laws at Batinivuriwai in Wainunu were always ready to provide support when needed.
“They made the journey worth it. I knew I could count on my family when needed as being a wife, mother and fulltime student came with its fair share of challenges,” Uluvaga shared.
“But I believe that with God, everything is possible, and my favourite memory verse says that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’.” “I knew that if He was not fighting my battles with me, I would not have achieved whatever I have today.” Her eyes slowly lit up as she reminisced on her time at FNU’s Delainatabua Campus in Lautoka.
“The journey was made up of broke days, sleepless nights, staying away from my family, especially my son, and sharing a packet of bean worth 50 cents at lunchtime with my section members,” she shared with a laugh. “All this never stopped me from accomplishing my dreams of becoming a teacher.”
“At FNU, I met lecturers who were approachable, patient, caring and dedicated with a kind personality. I have never forgotten any of my lecturers since Year 1, and this simply shows that they were one-of-a-kind.”
“My section members and I called ourselves the labasinu group and everyone were cooperative, dependable and supportive. I also enjoyed meeting new people, interacting with people of different age group and learning and experiencing a lot of new things every day.”
More seriously, Uluvaga said it was an honour to acknowledge the role she would play in educating children.
“My role as a teacher will be challenging because I will be teaching little kids who will be leading this beautiful nation in the years to come,” she said. “Apart from teaching them academically, I also need to be a great role model because since children are good imitators, I need to portray the right attitude and characteristics to help them become successful and compassionate people.”
“My advice to those planning to pursue a career in teaching is to take up the profession because of the passion bestowed within and not for the money.” “Teaching is one of the noblest profession and gives you the opportunity and privilege of making an impact in society by educating and shaping the next generation.”