Mani Mate (Master of Commerce in Tourism and Hospitality Management) from Aitutaki, was humbled and honoured to deliver the keynote address on behalf of the 2018 graduates.
He spoke of his beginnings in the academic world of undertaking further studies with USP.
After experiencing the devastation of cyclone Pat in 2010 while he was residing there, Mate decided to explore options in higher education and enrolled in the USP course, BCOM in Hotel Management.
He noted the challenges of sleepless nights reading, research, writing and studying for exams while working full time.
“Many of us appreciate the fact that we were able to study from home while providing and taking care of our families, make a difference in our communities, taking part in the growth of our society and the development of our country.”
“For this we are grateful to the USP for giving us the opportunity to be able to study from our home country.”
Mate encouraged fellow graduates to “never ever doubt your abilities.”
Special thanks and appreciation were expressed to the USP faculty and support staff, lecturers, employers, sponsors and families on behalf of the graduates. The graduation also marked the 50th Anniversary of the University.
Director of the USP Cook Islands Campus Rod Dixon says: “Since its inception the university has produced over 500 Cook Islands graduates at first degree or above, the majority of whom have remained in - country to serve the Cook Islands in the public, private and civil society sectors.”
“With a significant number of graduates in-country, the focus is now on developing research capacity through higher degree studies.”
“The graduation celebrates the achievement of our current and past graduates. Smaller graduation celebrations will take place in the next few weeks on Palmerston and Manihiki.”
Forty students graduated; also present at the occasion were 47 students who graduated since the last Cook Islands graduation in October 2015; nine students who graduated in a joint collaboration between USP and AUT, including three Masters by thesis - a total of 96 students, 53 of these are at post graduate level.
In the Cook Islands, the USP graduation ceremonies occur every two to three years and on average produces 30 Cook Islands graduates annually.