We have a range of initiatives for current and future Pasifika students
Our Griffith community comprises a number of Pacific Island and Maori members. Our outreach initiatives for Pasifika and Maori students help demystify university, increase confidence, encourage teamwork and celebrate success.
Explore these initiatives below.
Standing for Legacy, Education, Achievement, Dream, our LEAD program is delivered to students in Years 10 to 12 in Uni-Reach schools with large numbers of Pasifika students. With activities spanning forums, workshops, family and awards nights, on-campus conferences and camps, the program aims to:
- enhance student leadership and teamwork skills
- provide support networks
- support personal growth and aspirations for tertiary education
- increase confidence and self-awareness of career and personality preferences
- demystify university
- facilitate goal-setting behaviour.
Successful Griffith Pasifika students provide mentorship and positive role models for program participants, and are able to share their experiences of university and career pathways.
Held at Griffith University Logan campus, the conference focuses on Year 10 Pacific Island and Maori students from our partner schools. For some, it is an opportunity to visit a university campus for the first time. This intensive full-day experience is comprised of interactive activities to raise awareness about university and pathway options, and support personal growth and aspirations for tertiary education.
"I've become more in touch with my culture and really learnt to extend barriers and stepping out of my comfort zone and also meeting new people.”
"The students gained a time for belonging to and sharing immense pride in who they are - both as a pacifica community and even more importantly the power of their own gifts, talents etc."
"Students had opportunities to progress beyond their initial stigmas whether that be cultural or academic ability."
"Attending LEAD helped me gain understanding and knowledge of what it really means to lead! You cannot be a leader if you do not believe in yourself."
I think this camp is invaluable in providing a bridge between school and university for Polynesian students. I think I have learned a lot as a non-Pacific Island teacher that will help me get the best outcomes for Pacific Island students."
Inspiring the next generation
Amelia Lavaki is a former student of Griffith University who has recently graduated with a Bachelor in Primary Education. She had always planned to go to Griffith as it was close, and some of her family were alumni. At first she studied a Bachelor of Arts, to get a high GPA (Grade Point Average) before transferring into her dream degree of Primary Education.
Amelia credits her love for kids as well as her passion for helping people as the reason she knew that a degree in education was for her.
“After heaps of practice babysitting and looking after the little ones in my big Poly family. I guess just being able to be part of supporting someone’s future, watching them grow, helping them learn and hopefully making a difference in their lives is my passion,” she said.
The greatest challenge as a student for Amelia was trying to balance working at the same time as studying, as well as finding the motivation to attend classes and workshops.
The Student Equity Outreach program that had the biggest impact on Amelia as a student was the LEAD (Legacy, Education, Achievement, Dream) Pasifika program. Hearing about the program through joining the GPA (Griffith Pasifika Association), Amelia had wanted to be a part of it due to the optimistic word of mouth and the positive impact she saw it was making on her people.
Currently Amelia is a Grade 3 primary teacher at Woodridge State School and feels her experience as a LEAD mentor has helped shaped her into the person she is today.
“Being a LEAD mentor helped me gain confidence not only within myself but with my ability to help make a difference within the lives of our young Pasifika people,”
“I have watched the numbers of our young Pasifika people striving for higher education increase significantly and have seen our Griffith Pasifika Association grow as well and I know for sure that LEAD is one of the reasons why.” She said.
Amelia hopes to continue to help contribute to the change, starting first with her little ones at Woodridge State School.
Reference: Story by Luisa Ausage, student, Bachelor of Journalism and Uni-Reach mentor
Picture (L-R): Kathy Grgic, Academic Registrar; Amelia Lavaki; Linda O'Brien, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head, Logan Campus.
Alberto Meleisea (pictured) started a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Psychological Science at Griffith in 2015. Alberto overcame a number of challenges to get to uni and now works to support other students from similar backgrounds to realise their dreams.
A humble upbringing
When I was growing up my single Mum made a lot of sacrifices to ensure that my younger brother and I had a roof over our head and that we had the opportunity to receive an education. In my youth I witnessed first-hand the dissatisfaction of a lot of Pacific Islander families with their jobs which were mostly factory work. The majority of them did not enjoy their work which was repetitive and had no future prospects of improvement.
This experience gave me the motivation to ensure that I valued my education and to choose a pathway that will lead me to a career that I will be passionate about.
The journey and the challenges
I graduated from Woodridge State High School where I was School Captain in 2014. I got into Griffith University through guaranteed entry and my first big concern was to be able to pay the fees of my first year. As a NZ citizen I am not eligible to defer my tuition fees or receive Centrelink. I do make it work through part-time work and planning.
My other big concern has been a fear of failing and disappointing my family as so many sacrifices had been made to allow me this opportunity to be the first person ever in my family to go to uni. Because I am the first in my family to go to uni, I had no one I could seek advice from and had to learn to adapt to the uni by myself.
My experiences from my journey to Griffith University were insightful and participating in LEAD (Legacy, Education, Achievement, Dream) has given me the opportunity to help other Pacific Islander students and provide them support. I have been heavily involved in mentoring LEAD Camps and the LEAD Conference. Being a mentor has allowed me to share my experiences and play my part to help new students navigate through the challenges of being at university and inspire them to look at what is possible ahead.
Future and Aspirations
Early on psychology caught my interest and then the law because I had a teacher who made the subject interesting and I just have a knack for persuasion. I am passionate about studying law and my goal is to one day become a family lawyer in the Logan area or to be a police prosecutor. Either way I am excited to be able to take this journey.
Want to know more?
To find out more about our LEAD program, contact the Pacific Island Programs Officer