Alumni Alumni Stories Friendships made at JCU are near and dear

Friendships made at JCU are near and dear

JCU Alumni Sereseini

JCU Alumni, Sereseini Vakawaletabua is the Project Manager Safeguards for the Fiji Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management Program.

In 2017 Sereseini Dikalouniwai Vakawaletabua was one of the students from a variety of Pacific Islands who were offered a place to study at James Cook University through a scholarship in partnership with the Pacific Ridge 2 Reef program. The two courses offered were a graduate certificate and a graduate diploma in Ridge to Reef Sustainable Development, Mrs Vakawaletabua started the certificate course and then moved on to complete the diploma in June 2021.

Mrs Vakawaletabua’s fondest memory of JCU are the friends she made during her years of studies at JCU. Mrs Vakawaletabua recalls so many wonderful moments together especially during orientation week where they would meet and update each other about their work back at their home country as they were all doing the same course from their different home country.

“It was genuine fun that is hard to come by nowadays when you're in the full-time working world. These friendships are near and dear to me and I'm glad to say that we're still in constant contact through the years and at present with most of the other students,” says Mrs Vakawaletabua.

Throughout her studies Mrs Vakawaletabua had the opportunity to explore and develop a number of highly convenient skills which she finds valuable in her career today.  She says there was an emphasis on project and group work, as well as extensive presentation and report writing practice. These skills have helped her with job applications, and her four years of study at JCU has provided a variety of experiences to draw from when applying for work. These skills have been  extremely useful to her current role as a Project Manager Safeguards at Water Authority of Fiji (WAF).

“The flexibility of online study with some face-to-face has allowed me to focus more my on the areas in which I am most interested, as well as equipping me for a variety of professional roles, both within and out-side the scientific fields” says  Mrs Vakawaletabua.

Mrs Vakawaletbaua is currently working as the Project Manager Safeguards for the Fiji Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management Program. As part of this role she is responsible for the Land Acquisition, Gender Equality, OHS, Social Safeguards, Resettlement Plan and Environmental Safeguards for the program.  Some of Mrs Vakawaletabua’s major achievements in this role include:

  • Being nominated and received an award for the Outstanding Service in 2020 during the 2020 WAF Awards Night.
  • Being able to accomplish most of the land acquisition of the Rewa River Water Supply Scheme Project with the help of her WAF team which is one of the largest projects in Fiji.
  • Manage to undertake a proper negotiation with the Landowners and owners of the crop/trees that are affected by the project.
  • Able to get the Initial Environment Examination (IEE) of the Rewa River Water Supply Scheme Project approved by Department of Environment.

Mrs Vakawaletabua has some words of advice for anyone considering tertiary education, she says;

“Set high personal and academic standards for yourself, and live up to them. It can be easy to let yourself think small because of the fear of failure, or even the fear of making a decision. But, to accomplish great things in life, you have to be open to taking risks. With whatever challenges may arise, always think and dream big. That way, you will achieve more than what you could have ever imagined. Try not to let your thoughts get in your own way.”