The National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) could not have chosen a better man to honour during their graduation ceremony last Friday.
Looking at the enormous impact the University has had on the lives of thousands of Samoans today, the conferring of an honorary Doctor of Political Science and Education upon Tapusatele Le Mamea Ropati Mualia could not have been more fitting.
Why? It is a great way to acknowledge and honour such a leader, who was instrumental in setting up an educational institution that has only grown to become the heart and soul of educational developments in this country.
While it is a fact that many of our brightest minds go off to study in universities overseas, the role the N.U.S. plays cannot be underestimated. It has offered thousands of Samoans an opportunity to attain tertiary level qualifications they otherwise would not have had.
And looking at the number of students that continue to graduate year after year, we’ve got to pay tribute to the vision and foresight of pioneers like Tapusatele. Where would these students have gone without the N.U.S?
Now on Friday, Tapusatele took a journey down memory lane. In accepting his award, he remembered that the journey of establishing the University in February 1984 was not easy. With only 47 students in its early days, Tapusatele said they persevered because of the vision to provide an avenue for young Samoans to be able to be educated and give back to the country.
“More than thirty years ago, we embarked on a journey to set up a National University in Samoa; something that we knew seemed a little far-fetched at the time,” Tapusatele shared.
“Now 35 years later, as I stand before you, I am in awe of the magnitude of this institution and am humbled by God’s blessing on a dream we dared to dream many years ago.”
Like many things in life, the decision to start was the hardest.
“During the planning stages, when we prepared the soil and planted the seed of establishment of the National University of Samoa, this auspicious moment was furthest from our minds.
“But when planning involves the element of faith, there is divine assurance that the realisation of things unseen will come about.”
Tapusatele spoke about trusting God and having faith the size of a mustard seed.
“The Word of God uses the analogy of a mustard seed being the smallest and yet with faith of such miniscule size, this seed when planted, may bring forth a tree of life with branches and in the shade of which many will find shelter.
“It is from a position of deep gratitude at seeing the culmination of the labours of many moons ago, that I, on behalf of those with whom we dared to hope for this day.
“They say that ‘hindsight is 20/20 vision’ and there is a Samoan proverb which says ‘e le iloa ala o vae’-simply put - we do not know what tomorrow holds.
“Today (yesterday), I stand before you as the personification of this sentiment.”
Last Friday, some 428 students graduated with different qualifications from the N.U.S. Tapusatele encouraged the graduates that their achievements begin another season in their lives.
“The accomplishments; the joys and challenges along the path, is what gives our lives its colour and magnificence; it is what gives meaning to what we do and where we are,” he said.
“The question I would ponder you with, is where to from here?”
Well that’s a great question, isn’t it?
We know some of the graduates are already working.
The majority of them are not and they will be out looking for jobs today. Are there enough jobs in Samoa for them? That is the question.
But maybe we’ll discuss that another day.
In the meantime, lets acknowledge and congratulate Tapusatele for his vision, courage and bravery to dream and live his dream.
Have a wonderful Tuesday Samoa, God bless!