Forty-one Australia Awards alumni who graduated and returned to Fiji in 2020 were recognised for their triumph through adversity at a reception event last night.
Australia’s Acting High Commissioner to Fiji, Paul Wilson congratulated and commended the alumni for their persistence and determination to complete their Australian qualifications during challenging times.
“Tonight, we celebrate your triumph through adversity. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all personally and professionally. During the height of the pandemic, you were studying in a foreign country, required to isolate and complete your study programs virtually.”
He acknowledged that many of the alumni were also unable to attend their graduation due to the cancellation of the event or border closures. “Thank you for staying strong throughout this period and striving for excellence. We are so happy to have you back home and look forward to seeing you sharing your newfound skills and experiences with your colleagues and the rest of Fiji.”
As a token of appreciation, the Acting High Commissioner acknowledged each individual alumnus and presented them with a small gift.
Speaking on behalf of the graduates, Mamatuki Sosefo (University of Sydney graduate) said, “Australia Awards allowed each of us to discover the diversity of Australia, be educated by credible universities, and experience the Aussie lifestyle. But being in another country away from home during COVID was difficult. However, the alumni before you chose to stay and strive on as we all had a common philosophy – that “we will rise”, and we all did, specialising in various fields.”
“Our success would not have happened without the support of the Australian Government, the Australia Awards support staff and various Australian universities for guiding us through the journey of uncertainty and, most importantly our families.”
The event was also an opportunity for alumni to connect with the Fiji-Australia Alumni Association, a consortium of Australian Government funded alumni coming together for knowledge sharing and professional development, while maintaining links with Australia.
More than 100 guests were in attendance at the event which included the alumni, current Australia Awards scholarship recipients, representatives from the Fiji Government, Australian High Commission, and the private sector.
Australia Awards are prestigious international scholarships offered by the Australian Government to the next generation of global leaders for development. Through study, research and professional development in Australia or the Pacific, recipients develop the skills and knowledge to drive change and build enduring people-to-people links with Australia.