Understanding that hard work and sacrifice equals success means the 18-year-old can stay home in Rarotonga to complete her university studies.
The 2019 year 13 Tereora College student did English, calculus, statistics, physics and biology and knew she had already achieved NCEA level 3 with Merit Endorsement before she had even stepped into her exams.
For the young woman who has also represented the Cook Islands in the national soccer team, preparation was key.
“I didn’t want to go into my exams stressed because I don’t like to put myself under unnecessary pressure to perform well but I was confident that my results would be good,” she said.
Having passed NCEA level 3 prior to sitting exams and subsequently University Entrance, means that Tuivaga has been accepted into a three-year accounting degree at the University of the South Pacific starting next month.
Given the subjects she studied, she said she looked at the option of physiotherapy, but the opportunity to study at home and use her skills to give back to her country was more enticing.
Tuivaga said the thought of having to go overseas to complete her university degree and being away from her home and her family was daunting.
“I didn’t want to move overseas and have to find a place to live and start a whole new life,” she said.
To be able to study accounting is a dream come true for a young Cook Islands woman whose aspirations are to start her own business at home in Rarotonga and do all her accounting work herself.
Tuivaga’s parents have always put a strong emphasis on education and because of this they will cover her course fees.
As Tuivaga’s biggest supporters, either her mum or her dad would stay up all night with her while she was studying, not because they were keeping an eye on her and making sure she was actually hitting her books but because they understood the sacrifices she was making.
“I hope to get a government scholarship but my parents are paying for me to study here. Of course they want to see my grades and that I’m working hard and doing well, but my fees here are nothing compared to what I would’ve been looking at overseas,” she said.
She also paid tribute to her anau group teacher at Tereora College Christina Ganivatu, who was like a mother figure to her during her time at the school.
“This is my home, I didn’t want to go anywhere else, the reason I’ve achieved what I have is because of the support here,” she said.
“My success is not mine alone and I hope one day to return the support I’ve been given.”