While studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) at the University of Auckland, 22-year-old Jalesi Jeff Nakarawa has realised Pacific people bring a unique perspective – and solutions - to engineering issues.
Born in Suva, and hailing from the villages of Lawaki, Kadadvu and Vatudova
Labassa, Jalesi grew up in Hamilton as part of a large family, including eight siblings.
Jalesi attended Hamilton Boys’ High School and says it was then de discovered he really enjoyed Mathematics, Physics, as well as an interest in the environment.
“While looking for possible career opportunities I found Engineering fulfilled all my interests and felt like the only option for me,” Jalesi explains.
He is one of this year’s 13 Toloa Tertiary Scholarship recipients who were recognised at awards ceremonies in February.
The purpose of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) funded scholarships is to encourage Pacific students to complete studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects at tertiary level and increase the number of Pacific people employed in STEM careers.
This Scholarship will allow Jalesi to continue studying, without the burden of financing his degree.
Jalesi says he has a vision for not only Fiji but the wider Pacific community, which involves the Pacific people leading their own communities through STEM-related subjects.
“While studying Engineering, I have seen that Pacific people bring a unique perspective – and solutions - to engineering issues,” he says.
I feel that it is important to have Pacific people studying STEM and working in related careers because we provide insight and different perspectives on numerous issues.
“Diversity is extremely important in terms of Engineering - it has been recognised as a crucial factor in a successful team.”
To ensure future generations are as passionate about STEM as him, Jalesi takes part in the university’s Tuakana mentoring programme.
“Coming from the Islands, I have always believed in giving back to give forward.
“I aspire to be involved in the improvement/upgrades of infrastructure in the Pacific and improve the environmental safety aspect of construction in the region.
“I also hope to lead by example and inspire the younger generation to pursue careers in STEM related subjects.”