Aspiring civil engineer, Jocelyn Laumata Soti, has made her family very proud.
As the top overall student for 2015’s Foundation year at the National University of Samoa, she told the Sunday Samoan she could not have given her family a better present for Christmas.
“It was an intense competition and it was really hard, with sleepless nights and stressful days. I had to sacrifice my sleep but my parents sacrifice a lot for us,” she said.
“We had to move here from American Samoa because it’s better education here and so we moved here and I attended Samoa College at Year 12.”
Adapting to education in Samoa was tough, made even harder by a death in the family.
“When we moved back it was really hard because I saw there [was] a lot of competition, especially in Samoa College. I started in Year 12 and then in Year 13 I came first runner-up."
“This date last month my grandmother passed away.”
Her father, Chris Soti, said his daughter went through a lot to get to where she is now.
“It wasn’t an easy journey for her but we always encouraged her to do her best,” he said. “We always tell [her] to work hard to get a degree and get a better life."
“We know how life is and if they don’t do well they won’t be able to survive in this world.”
Mr. Soti said his daughter always listens to her parents.
“She doesn’t go out, she doesn’t have facebook; she just stays home [to] study, that’s it. She always does her best for everything and the teachers always says that she always asks questions in everything when she doesn’t understand."
“She listens to us when we advise her. All we can do as parents is to advise them and it’s up to them to take that advice.”
The recognition for his daughter came as a very welcome surprise.
“As her parents, we are really proud of her - we didn’t expect her to achieve this, I mean, we knew she could do it, but she took that extra mile and did it,” he said.
The top student dedicated all her achievements to the memory of various family members.
“I dedicate all of this to my grandmother, the late Elisapeta Rimoni Palu, who passed away on the 9th of November; my grandfather, the late Lupematasila Ioane Soti; and my baby brother Chris Soti, who died in 2008.
“I wish they were here but I know they are looking down on me with big smiles on their faces.”
Jocelyn Soti acknowledged the support from her tutors, families and friends, and especially her parents as well as God. “A big thank you to my tutors Rev. Vavatau Taufao and Rev. Muao Fagasua, to my grandparents Rev. Kerisiano and Laumata Soti, my church minister Rev. Elder Peteru Tone, my uncle Reupena Rimoni, my NUS Lecturers and staff members and especially my parents,” she said.
“Without your support I wouldn’t be able to get to where I am today.”
She wants to become a civil engineer in the future and wants to take after her dad.
She is the eldest of Chris and Laumata Soti’s six children.
She was the top student in Mathematics in the Secondary School Leaving Certificate.
She will be going to the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, to pursue her dreams. She comes from the villages of Vaivase Tai and Toamua.