Fenumiai Ofeira Matagi is the Year 13 valedictorian for Leulumoega College.
Aspiring to be a businesswoman after she completes her university studies, she was awarded first place for Accounting and English subjects overall when the college’s top performers were announced on Wednesday.
Her parents Steve Matagi and Ofeira Faatali Matagi—who are now separated—made their way through a crowd of students to congratulate their daughter.
She is the first of her four siblings to ever become a school valedictorian.
In an interview with Samoa Observer, Fenumiai said she has attended Leulumoega College since Year 9 and her favourite subjects were economics and accounting.
When she was asked who she will dedicate her awards to, she replied: “My superhero mum!”
Discussing the challenges she faced in school, Fenumiai said her biggest one was her being true to herself and working hard to achieve her goals.
Fenumiai said her parents separated when she was in Year 6 and the marriage breakup had an impact on the family.
“My parents separated when I was in year six and it was difficult for our family. However, my mom did not hesitate to take up both parenting roles.
My achievements this year, I hope she knows despite the fact that she’s a stay at home mum, she has been in every way successful in raising me—y mom is my role model,” she said.
Her father remarried and has a family of his own but still supports her education and their family, she added.
“My dad has done well to help support us financially but my uncles and older siblings have also helped our family.”
Fenumiai also used the opportunity to thank Pastor Faraimo Tiitii and his wife Sarona Tiitii, who were among a handful of villagers from Utualii that were present at the prize giving.
Fenumiai will go to the National University of Samoa next eyar and major in commerce, in her bid over the long-term to become a successful businesswoman.