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‘It Was Challenging But Worthwhile’

Mother-of-four Lavinia Sauleca Tausere-Tiko accomplished another milestone when she graduated from the University of New England with a PHD in Education last Friday. Challenging but worthwhile Her story is not
07 May 2016 10:47
‘It Was Challenging But Worthwhile’
Dr. Lavinia Sauleca Tausere Tiko Photo supplied by : Dr. Lavinia Sauleca Tausere Tiko

Mother-of-four Lavinia Sauleca Tausere-Tiko accomplished another milestone when she graduated from the University of New England with a PHD in Education last Friday.

Challenging but worthwhile

Her story is not like most ordinary graduates as she had to deal with family living apart, making tough sacrifices, amongst other things to get where she is now. A journey she described as a challenging but worthwhile one.

The Adi Cakobau School old girl, who has both paternal and maternal links to Mualevu in Vanuabalavu, said her biggest inspiration was her husband, the Permanent Secretary for Education, Iowane Ponipate Tiko.

He had encouraged her to take the scholarship to Waikato University, while he looked after the boys.

After attaining her Bachelor in Education and a Postgraduate Degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Waikato, she returned to Fiji and worked as a senior education officer for Early Childhood Education in the Ministry of Education.

Commonwealth scholarship for Masters

She was then posted to Lautoka Teachers College as lecturer. It was there that she was offered a Commonwealth Scholarship to do her Masters at the University of London where she stayed for two years.

On returning she was offered a job at the University of the South Pacific as a lecturer in education. She started work at Vanuatu, took her sons while her husband stayed back as he was a Mathematics lecturer at Lautoka Teachers College then.

“Since there were a lot of movements, we had to live apart, but it was only for two months and then I was posted back to Laucala Bay Campus, where my family was happily reunited,” she said.

Mrs Tausere-Tiko said her husband’s appointment as permanent secretary for education was another big achievement for the family.

In 2011, she was offered an iTaukei Affair Board Scholarship to study overseas. She automatically asked the scholarship interview panel to offer it to her second eldest son, Iowane Junior, who had also applied and was interviewed a day earlier.

However, the panel offered her the scholarship instead saying that it was her last lap and that her son had a long way to go.

‘Mother’s death slowed me down’

“I was so happy that FAB was able to pay my son’s fees at USP.”

It was one year into her studies when she got a call, that her mother was ill. It was a tough time as she had to travel to and fro to visit her mother. Sadly her mother died of cancer in January 2014 at the age of 78.

“Her death did slow down my progress but then I told myself that I had to finish my PHD. I asked for extension from iTaukei Affairs Board and they gave me six months. I only used three.”

When she received her results, first thing she did was she knelt down in her USP office and prayed. Then she called her husband and they prayed again over the phone.

“I don’t regret the struggles; I owe it all to my husband who was with me every step of the way. It’s all about being supportive and understanding of each other.

Achievements dedicated to parents

At the graduation, she was accompanied by her three sons and a family friend; the graduation was made even more memorable as she was asked last minute to give a speech on behalf of the graduates at the University of New England.

Her achievement was dedicated to her late parents Semi Bulimaiwai Tausere and Loloana Naivilowasa Tausere who lit the light in her life and nourished her spirit.

“It was a proud moment when I was called as I represented my family. I wished my parents were there to witness it,”she said.

Her advice to young people is that it’s never too late to go back to school

“Education ends when you’re in the grave. In whatever field you may be, work towards your goal.”

Thanks to God and others

Mrs Tausere-Tiko thanks God, for making it all happen; and her principal supervisor Professor Margaret Sims, co-supervisors, Associate Professor Nadine McCrea and Sue Elliot, USP Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) for maintaining her position throughout the years of her study leave. Madam Dean, Akanisi Kedrayate, Associate Professor Akhila Nand Sharma. Professor Konai Thaman, Salanieta Bakalevu, Mrs. Kelesi Sale – Whippy

She also thanked her family, relatives and friends, especially to Torika Keteca-Taoi, whose ways of caring reflected the legacy left by their parents who were always supportive of their academic debuts.

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