Knowing there are people who have invested in her and believe in her abilities brings an increased determination to Valerie Lui to make the most of the opportunity she has been presented with.
Valerie is a recipient of a Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) 2020 Toloa Tertiary Scholarship – a scholarship initiative designed to encourage Pacific people to take up tertiary studies and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) areas.
“Being a recipient of the scholarship has been an added measure of motivation for me to complete my degree and to continue pursuing a career in STEM,” Valerie says.
“I’ve been given this opportunity and hope to give back to the community when I’m in the workforce.”
Of Samoan, Irish and German descent, Valerie was raised in West Auckland and attended Henderson High School before taking on a conjoint degree of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Sociology at the University of Auckland.
Valerie says she applied for a Toloa Tertiary Scholarship as she had nothing to lose, and she recognised it as a rare and valuable opportunity to alleviate some financial stress and to establish connections with one of the major Pacific organisations in Aotearoa.
Now part-way through her conjoint degree and Valerie is looking to the future, and how she can serve her family and the Pacific community with her acquired skills and knowledge.
“I plan to secure a stable job to assist and provide for my parents,” she explains.
“I would love to work in the community and am really interested in and passionate about the crossover between policy-making and sustainable engineering.
“Overall, I want to continue learning and use the skills I’ve been given to serve our communities.”
She believes there are several flaws she sees in systems and facilities in Aotearoa and abroad, which as they currently stand, hinder Pacific progress physically, financially, socially and intellectually.
“I believe these things can be addressed with both culturally competent engineering and better decision-making - I hope to serve in addressing these types of issues.
“I also believe there is a lot of potential within our Pasifika community yet to be unlocked, stemming from our inventive history as navigators and natural engineers, as well as the core values within our cultures.”
This knowledge - once fully harnessed - will be of great worth to Aotearoa and the wider world, she adds.
In the meantime, Valerie is encouraging Pacific people to grasp the opportunity to apply for a Toloa Tertiary Scholarship.
“These scholarships are for you – they were created for the purpose of giving you assistance, for accelerating your journey in STEM and to invite more Pacific representatives in the industry.
“Your contribution, unique heritage and career is important not only to you and your family but to our present and future communities - claim the opportunity.”