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Fiji National University 2023 March Graduation Ceremony - Labasa Campus

March 14, 2023       Civic Centre, Labasa

 • Honourable Representatives of the Fiji Government;
Chair of the Fiji National University Council — Dr. Adi Kesaia Seniloli;
Deputy Chancellor, Mr Semesa Druavesi Karavaki;
Members of the FNU Council;
FNU Acting Vice-Chancellor — Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Members of the FNU Senior Leadership Team;
Graduands, Family Members, Sponsors, and Invited Guests

Miau Sa Bula Re, Bula Si’a & a very Good Morning to you all! 
I am indeed honoured this morning to address you all as your Head of State and President and to be part of this Fiji National University’s 2023 graduation ceremony in our Labasa Campus.  
I have had the pleasure of attending the Labasa graduation ceremonies before in my capacity as the former Chairperson of the FNU Labasa Campus Stakeholders’ Advisory Committee and this morning I am humbled that FNU Labasa has yet again extended this invitation to my office to confer important awards today. For the past couple of days I have been following closely the graduation Ceremonies of your fellow graduating class in Suva. There has been great coverage in the newspapers and the media on a daily basis last week on the struggles and accomplishments that have paved the way for your respective journeys to reach graduation.

Allow me at this juncture, to welcome to Labasa those of you that have made the journey from Viti Levu and other parts of Vanua Levu –. I hope you will enjoy the warm hospitality that we are distinctly known for here in Vanua Levu.  The University continues to provide an enriching student learning experience by providing enhanced and an inclusive learning facilities and resources to cater for students of all backgrounds and special needs.  I note that the University has opened its new four-storey College of Business, Hospitality and Tourism Studies (CBHTS) building at the Nasinu Campus. The new CBHTS complex houses a Student Central office for students’ academic, finance and ITS needs, classrooms and workspaces and a 450 seat lecture theatre inclusive of accessible seats for students with disabilities or now known as Students with Determination. It is now clearly evident that the infrastructural developments that the University has invested in, is testament of the University’s commitment to  continuously offer state of the art resources and new programmes to its local, regional and international students who study at one of its five colleges, the Fiji Maritime Academy or the National Training and Productivity Centre.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Fiji National University (FNU) was established in 2010 and since then, the University has produced hundreds of graduates who now excel in their various fields of expertise. To the Graduands, as sons and daughters of Vanua Levu and in turn Fiji, I am proud that you will now become part of our educated population and continue to make an impact in the country with your hard work, commitment and dedication that shall influence the growth of our nations progress.  Being associated with this University for quite some time, I am aware that most of you have had to travel away from home for further education and stayed in hostels or rented while in Suva or in the Western Division for the duration of your studies, yet have opted to graduate today here in Labasa. I understand the struggles and the sacrifices you have to face in our academic journey away from home.
To all the relatives and family members who supported your educational journey by agreeing for you to stay with them for the duration of your studies — Vinaka Vakalevu for supporting our children in reaching their academic aspirations.  I am sure that all of you seated here today in your graduation gowns will cherish the memories and experiences you have gained as students of FNU.  The challenges you had to overcome, the sacrifices made and now the achievements you get to celebrate. Graduands – as you enter into a new season of your lives, you now have the important task of making your mark in this world. Go out and make your parents and loved ones proud of you. I am of the firm belief that education can truly change the world. 
Education is a powerful agent of change, when we educate our doctors and medical service providers we improve our health and medical services as well as our livelihoods through the programmes rolled out by this sector; education contributes to social stability and drives long-term economic growth and in turn our economic development. Your respective contributions to society are crucial and greatly needed. I have no doubt that FNU has provided you with the academic and social skills needed for you to succeed in anything you pursue from here on.  As you sit here today as accomplished products of your various colleges, I look out to the audience and I can feel and see the pride of your respective families and friends as well as that of the FNU staff. Your next chapter shall see you join a growing and highly skilled workforce in your field of expertise. This includes the teaching, business, tourism and hospitality, agriculture, fisheries and forestry, science and engineering and the health and medical field. Whatever your industry of contribution is, I personally urge you as your President, a High Chief, as an elder that you will never count what you do as just ‘a job’, treat it rather as your calling to serve and your purpose to share your abilities and what you have learnt with those around you. In all you do be transparent, diligent and professional in your conduct and be team players, be effective problem solvers by being critical and creative thinkers, humble leaders and passionate workers. 
I am always proud to be part of graduation ceremonies in Labasa because I consider myself as a modern Traditional Chief that strongly believes, education is crucial and the only way to achieving bigger and brighter visions and better development for the North and for Fiji. I am proud that our people are being educated and we have become host to such an institutional ceremony like today. I have had the privilege of witnessing the past graduates of FNU as well as other tertiary institutions return to Vanua Levu and contribute in many ways to the economic growth and development of their villages and settlements. 

As your educational and professional status grows, never forget your parents, families and communities who supported you throughout your life. Always strive to give back to your communities and country.  
To conclude, I hope that each of you shall achieve what you set your mind to, and that today’s graduation ceremony shall be the beginning of more success and triumphs for each of you. 

With those few words, May God bless us all and May God Bless Fiji! Vinaka Vakalevu