Waqatabu’s Decision to Return to University Pays Off

It was a wise decision single mum, Penina Waqatabu, made when she returned to university after 15 years.
14 May 2022 13:02
Waqatabu’s Decision to Return to University Pays Off
Graduate Penina Waqatabu (l) with her father Kisoko Waqatabu after the University of the South Pacific graduation at the FMF Gymnasium, Laucala Bay on 13, May 2022. Photo: Leon Lord

It was a wise decision single mum, Penina Waqatabu, made when she returned to university after 15 years.

She graduated with a Masters of Arts in History from the University of the South Pacific (USP) on Friday.

Ms Waqatabu, 43, hails from Vuninuku Village, Cikobia, Macuata with maternal links Qalikarua Village, Matuku, Lau.

She is now a part time teaching assistant in USP at the School of History and is also a numerator.

“I returned to university at 35 years old and I have never stopped. I did Bridging Foundation for one semester and then I started my undergraduate journey which was for four years and straight after that I did my postgraduate which was for one year and then I did my masters which took two years,” Ms Waqatabu said.

“Before I joined USP I was a housewife and when my ex-husband and I separated, I was forced to move in with my parents.

“I am so thankful that I have loving parents who are supportive and when I told them what had happened between my ex-husband and I, they willingly took me back home with my three kids.

“My mum passed away in the beginning of my master’s journey which was devastating. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education majoring in History and Geography.

“My first year back in university was tough; my first assignments were handwritten and I got the telling off from my lectures. I had help from students who were younger than me who were smart in using gadgets. I went through immense challenges and it has made me stronger.”


Through the Bainiose Scholarship, Ms Waqatabu completed her studies from undergraduate to Masters.

“I have been on scholarship after scholarship. I went through a community scholarship and it was challenging at first to try and get that scholarship,” she said.

“That community did not see me as a fit person because I believe they looked at me as my family were from the middle class and they were able to afford the scholarship, but from my end I told them that I am a single mother and needed that scholarship and was not relying on my parents.

“The community scholarship was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between USP and the community my grandmother had lived in.

“According to the MOU, the Bainiose Scholarship my grandmother had signed meant that she and her descendants have the privilege for that scholarship.

“Bainiose was a community outside USP and located at the seawall. When they relocated, the MOU was that USP was going to sponsor the students from that community.”

The former Suva Grammar School Student aims to be a Pacific historian lecturer.

She hopes to do her PhD through a scholarship overseas.

Her advice to single mothers is to never give up no matter what they face.

Got A News Tip

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

For All Fiji Sun Advertising
Fijisun E-edition