Dux award sur­prises Va­suinadi

He gave up hope af­ter fail­ing Year 11, but fam­ily’s life strug­gles drove him to seek ed­u­ca­tion ex­cel­lence.

Fiji Sun - - Nation - JOSAIA RALAGO SAVUSAVU Feed­back: josaia.ralago@fi­jisun.com.fj

It was be­yond Kali­vati Va­suinadi’s dream that he’d be pre­sented with the Dux award af­ter he had failed his Year 11 an­nual exam four years ago.

The sec­ond el­dest of four sib­lings, Mr Va­suinadi said when he had failed his an­nual exam in 2013, he thought that was the end of the road for his ed­u­ca­tion and had de­cided to set­tle as a farmer. “I had seen how much my par­ents were strug­gling so I de­cided to come back to school, but at an in­sti­tu­tion where I could grad­u­ate fast and earn for my fam­ily,” he said.

The au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing cer­tifi­cate grad­u­ate could not hold back tears as he marched up on stage yes­ter­day to re­ceive the award dur­ing the Montfort Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tute grad­u­a­tion in Savusavu. He scooped the top award in a roll of 42, who grad­u­ated in three dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories - au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing, build­ing and car­pen­try, and cabi­net mak­ing. “This came as a to­tal sur­prise for me and I am hum­bled and hon­oured to have been deemed wor­thy for this award,” the 20-year-old said.

His mother, Vil­i­maina Vakalalavale, said her son’s achieve­ment yes­ter­day also came as a shock to her. Ms Vakalalavale said her son was now the fam­ily’s ray of hope for a bet­ter life in the near fu­ture when he finds em­ploy­ment. With tears flow­ing, the mother of four re­called how much they had sac­ri­ficed to put her son through school. “My hus­band is a yaqona farmer, but does not earn much. To sup­ple­ment our in­come, I would en­gage in Masi pro­duc­tion,” Ms Vakalalavale said. “With what­ever we could get, we in­vested in our chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion. When he de­cided to stay home for a year in 2014, he saw how much we strug­gled and re­quested if he could re­turn to school to help our fam­ily. “Two years af­ter he en­rolled, he has suc­cess­fully com­pleted his stud­ies and a trophy is an ic­ing on the cake.” Edited by Naisa Koroi

Photo: Josaia Ralago

Montfort In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy 2016 Dux Kali­vati Va­suinadi (in gar­land) with his fam­ily at the grad­u­a­tion yes­ter­day.

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