Mele Manu is not afraid to think big — and she’s not shy in encouraging others to do the same. The Master of Education student says that no matter what your background is or where you come from, as a teacher you have the ability to be a leader and shape communities.
“Teachers can be leaders,” she said. “You are a leader regardless of what position you have in education. This was a huge thing for me to learn. Teachers can lead students and be a role model for students because there are really strong messages in our actions.”
Mele and her family moved from Tonga to Townsville at the start of 2017. She is studying full-time, with a mix of online and on-campus courses. Mele is majoring in Leadership and Management and is also interested in subjects offered in the Global Contexts major.
“Coming from a small country doesn’t mean you can’t look at the bigger picture and take that into consideration,” she said. “Whether that is the big picture in the organisation and the school or seeing a more holistic way of doing things as a teacher.”
Mele hopes to put her knowledge and skills to use when she returns home. Mele had completed a Bachelor of Nursing at JCU and was working at a nursing school in Tonga before starting her postgraduate studies. When she started teaching at the nursing school in 2010, she had no experience leading a classroom. After six years working as a teacher, she still felt she had plenty to learn about the role.
“My background is in nursing and I want to go back to my home country and help with the education at the school,” she said. “I had no prior experience in teaching when the chance came up to study at JCU. That was when I decided to take it further and gain more experience, skills and knowledge in this field.”
Mele, her husband and children have settled into life in Townsville and enjoy doing a range of activities as a family.
“The weather is just like home,” Mele said. “I find it quite enjoyable. We go shopping and spend time in the park and do all of those kinds of things. I’m not really homesick.”
Mele’s advice for international students is to make the most of the student support services available, as well as utilising The Learning Centre.
“If you don’t understand something, communication is the key,” she said. “Ask about anything you don’t understand. Getting help early will help you be successful in the future.”