141 students graduate from USP Alafua Campus

(Third from L-R): Her Highness Masiofo Faamausili Leinafo Tuimalealiifano, His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaleto’a Sualauvi II, Head of State of Samoa, and Mr Winston Thompson, USP Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council with distinguished guests and graduates.Photo:SUPPLIED.

One hundred and forty one (141) students walked home with bright future ahead of them after graduated at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Alafua Campus in Apia, Samoa, in December 08.

Eleven students from as far as Nigeria, Belize, Jamaica and New Zealand were part of the graduation ceremony while Fifty eight percent (58%) of the graduates were women and a total of eight (8) students graduated with Master’s Degree.

Alafua Campus Director Ms Leatuaolevao Ruby Vaa, congratulated the graduates and was reminded that they have worked hard and persevered and that they must thanked those who have supported them in their journey.

“After today you will begin another journey armed with the success of your education and your experience of these past years,” Ms Vaa said.

She highlighted some of the significant achievements of the Alafua Campus, about twenty-three (23) Postgraduate Diploma, thirteen (13) Masters and four (4) PhD students totalling to five hundred and sixty three (563) students at the Campus.

Talking about the Science Teachers Accelerated Programme (STAP), Ms Vaa stressed that two (2) students received gold medals this year in Biology and Mathematics.

Recipients were Fatutolo Tuisuga, who received Gold Medal and the Tropical Garments (Fiji) Ltd Prize for the Most Outstanding Graduate Majoring in Mathematics and Tioata Leleimalefaga received the Gold Medal and the John Gibbons Prize for the Most Outstanding Graduate Majoring in Biology.

STAP, Ms Vaa said is cohort-based, innovative and blended-learning programme which began in 2014 and is one of the best joint initiatives of the Government of Samoa and USP.

With the School of Agriculture and Food Technology (SAFT), the Campus Director noted that there is continuous support from the University’s member countries to send their students to Alafua Campus adding that “the strong support from Samoa for twenty (20) scholarships has made a difference from 2013 onwards.”

In terms of research, SAFT together with the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences (SBCS) have jointly won a research grant of FJD 46,700 from the University’s Research Office under the Strategic Research Theme of Sustainable Development.

The title of the research project is: “Assessing Techno-Economic Feasibility of Local Crop Products of the South Pacific as Ingredients for the Poultry Feeds” and is led by Professor Surendra Prasad of SBCS and Dr Jagdish Bhati of SAFT.

In areas of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the Campus received the lecture capture equipment in June this year, which has enabled increased student access to live lectures conducted at other campuses.

Ms Vaa also informed that the Alafua Campus is an accredited Cisco Networking Academy, a globally recognised professional certification programme for network professionals who want to gain Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching certification (CCNA) qualifications leading to full CCNA Certification.  Seventy five (75) students enrolled in Cisco courses this year.

She was pleased to note that the new submarine fibre (Tui-Samoa Cable) is finally in Samoa, which will enhance fast, reliable and affordable internet services across the country including the University’s Campus and Centre.

Talking about scholarship assistance, Ms Vaa said that for the first time this year, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded a cohort of eighteen (18) parliamentarians for the Certificate in Law (Civil) programme.

She also noted that Samoan students in USP’s Foundation programme are now eligible to apply for the New Zealand scholarships and the scholarship was previously open to foundation students of National University of Samoa.

Ms Vaa also provided some highlights of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations next year and its preparations, and invited one and all to be part of this “historic milestone” in the development of the University and the region.

She acknowledged the Alafua Campus support services teams and Associate Professor Mohammed Umar, Head of SAFT and IRETA Director, and his team for the significant improvements to the Alafua Campus, the School of Agriculture and Food Technology and IRETA.

Ceremony was attended by Mr Winston Thompson, USP Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council; His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaleto’a  Sualauvi II, Head of State of Samoa and Her Highness Masiofo Faamausili Leinafo  Tuimalealiifano; Ms Aloma Johansson, Deputy Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Finance and Investments Committee; Reverend Taumafai Komiti of Methodist Church of Matafele; Honourable Ministers and Members of Parliament; members of the Diplomatic Corp; members of the Judiciary and Clergy; Vice-Chancellor of National University of Samoa; members of the Alafua Campus Advisory Committee; Alafua Campus staff and families of graduates.