One’s appearance does not matter, when one’s attitude and character is right!

This was the message by Kolinio Cagi, a student with disability of The University of the South Pacific, during the launch of 2019 USP Orientation Week on 28 January 2019.

Cagi is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems and Management.

He highlighted that often people feel that their outward appearance is more important than their attitude and character.

“We are often pressured to come to University in style or wearing the latest fashion and easily feel side tracked when someone looks better than us,” he said.

He encouraged everyone, especially the first year students to never look down on themselves.

“Your positive attitude towards life will make a big difference. I have learnt to accept myself and be grateful for the life that I have despite my limitations,” Cagi added.

Cagi, who completed his Diploma in Information Technology from Pacific TAFE in 2017, thanked USP for establishing the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) to cater for students with disabilities.

The DRC, he noted, has made his transition into University life successful through the provision of buddies and support provided by DRC staff, adding that, it is also a place where students with disabilities find refuge when University life becomes overwhelming.

“A place that many of us refer to as a home away from home mainly because of the acceptance we feel as we are not made vulnerable because of disability,” Cagi said.

“When I first started I felt that I was different because of my disability, however, I realised that my peers were quick to notice my abilities. As a result, there was less pressure and expectation on myself because I began to feel included and accepted.”

He thanked USP for making people with disabilities feel safe and accepted in a place where everyone is fighting to be the best.

Meanwhile Emosi Vakarua, Secretary-General of the USP Students’ Association Federal Body, acknowledged that the University has a rich culture, a heritage that is experienced through friendships forged, sharing and caring for students.

“This is the USP culture, one that values people, respects differences, and celebrates achievements; you are never without a friend at USP,” Mr Vakarua told the new students.

He informed that 2019 marks the 10th Anniversary of USP Students’ Association Federal Body and told the students that a lot will be happening around the Campuses throughout the year.

Vakarua encouraged the new students to make the most of this chance and explore every aspect of University life on offer for them, be inquisitive and to probe the academic advisors to explain every element of the career they wished to pursue.

The USP DRC works collaboratively with the faculties, sections, departments as well as external stakeholders to ensure that both students and staff with special needs fulfil their potential in an inclusive environment.

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