Mei Nein Rokobiau exchanged her laboratory technician coat today for a more humanitarian career pathway.
The proud village girl graduated with a double gold medal, hoping that her achievement will challenge children in her Serea Village, Naitasiri, to follow suit.
Rokobiau graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Sociology, and never in her wildest dreams had she thought she would score the highest GPA.
She says girls from rural settings get a culture shock when they join the university, but she is hopeful her achievements will inspire others.
“The mentality for those rural students is that USP is for urban school students, so when they come here, they’re scared. But if I can do it, they can do it too, because I never went to any urban school, I was just brought up from the island, studied in the highlands, yet here I am.”
Despite the pressure on women her age to settle down, the 33-year-old says she’s excited about what her career path has to offer.
“You know, this is setting a good example to the younger generation because most of the young kids, especially girls, they think that it’s just the males. In my village, only the males have to go further. Most of them experience teenage pregnancies, but these two golds for today are for those teenagers that really need to come up here.”
Rokobiau’s mother could not contain her joy as her daughter became the first child of Serea Village to return with not one but two gold medals.
She only wished her late husband could see this achievement.
She is one of the three women scooping the highest award in today’s graduation ceremony at the University of the South Pacific.