It is said that a person is only limited by his willingness to work hard for his goals and that is exactly what Dr. John Bosco Sulifoa, aged 39, from the Solomon Islands believes as he was handed his Doctorate of Philosophy in Agriculture.
In a flood of brown graduation gowns worn by the 141 U.S.P. graduates celebrating their graduation yesterday at the E.F.K.S. hall, Sogi, Dr. Sulifoa stood out in his blue and red gown showing nothing but joy in his grand achievement.
In beginning his tertiary journey back in 2001 with his undergraduate program at the U.S.P. Alafua Campus, Dr. Sulifoa quickly attained his degree and moved on to completing his master’s program.
Dr. Sulifoa’s academic journey concluded on Friday when he was awarded a doctorate certificate out of all the graduates.
According to Dr. Sulifoa in an interview with the Sunday Samoan, achieving such a feat holds much difficulty, but through his faith in God’s plan for him, he was able to overcome all obstacles placed before him.
“No matter the challenges, we have to face them,” he explains.
“So that’s why I am very thankful to God because through him, everything is possible. My advice for the next generation is that if you want to reach this far, never forget God.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and everything will be handed unto you. So put God first in everything you do and you will get there.”
Dr. Sulifoa explains the challenges did not only include being tested mentally, but at times he would also feel emotional pressure. One example of an emotional pressure was being away from his wife who is studying in Hawaii. But that was made a little easier with his children and family being present at yesterday’s graduation.
As for mental challenges faced by Dr. Sulifoa, he was grateful for all the friends and family who helped push him.
“The main challenges I faced during my time here was just keeping up with the work,” he explains.
“It’s not easy keeping up with your thesis, doing the research and catching up with lectures. It’s very difficult. But the upside is that you will always have friends to help you.
“The one thing with U.S.P. is that all of us islanders work together. As Pacific brothers and sisters, we encourage each other to move forward when we go through these challenges. For example, with me having my wife over in Hawaii, your friends are the ones who will encourage and push you to do your best.
“My wife may not be here to celebrate with me, but I am glad my children are with me.”
Asked about any motivational advice for those who wish to reach that same level, Dr. Sulifoa says that hard work is the key.
“My advice to the future generation is that it doesn’t matter how smart a person is, but rather how hard they work,” he said.
“If you are a hard working person, then you may achieve anything, but if you are smart but lazy, you will not get anywhere.
“You have to use the knowledge that God gave to you and work hard for what you want. God not only gave you a brain, but he also gave you a heart which will push you to greatness.”
As for future plans, Dr. Sulifoa wishes to pass on what he has learnt to his people back in the Solomon Islands as a lecturer.
“I will go back to the Solomon Island where I have a job waiting for me,” he said.
“I will be working as a lecturer right away so everything is going according to plan. God has already set a plan for me and it’s great to see it play out.”
Dr. Sulifoa expressed his heartfelt thanks to Samoa for hosting him throughout his academic career.
“I love Samoa,” he confessed
“I love the whole of the Pacific. I just wanted to say thank you very much for taking good care of the students from other countries in a very kind manner. You have been very kind. I would also like to extend thanks to my lecturers, my supervisor and the rest of the staff of U.S.P.”
(more coverage of U.S.P. graduation and photos on pages 18 and 19)