Science has potential to benefit Pacific holistically
(Picture caption: Lueni Jasmine Havea at the Toloa Tertiary Scholarship ceremony, with Ministry for Pacific Peoples CE Laulu Mac Leauanae and Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon. Aupito William Sio.)
Passion for the sciences and academic prowess runs in the Havea family, something 18-year-old Lueni Jasmine Havea is proud of.
The New Zealand-born Tongan is one of 13 recipients of the Toloa Tertiary Scholarships, funded by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to encourage more Pacific to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, and enter STEM professions.
The youngest of three siblings, Jasmine is currently living in Wellington, studying a conjoint degree (Bachelor of Science, majoring in Computer Science, and a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Accounting) at Victoria University.
Receiving a Toloa Tertiary Scholarship is another feather in Jasmine’s cap, and another academic accolade for the Havea household.
“My mum Sesimani Havea is currently completing her PhD at Massey University and my dad Palatasa Havea, works as a Senior Research Scientist at Fonterra,” Jasmine explains.
When Jasmine was in year 11, her dad suggested she take Computer Science as a subject.
“I took his advice and as a result, I got a glimpse of what it can do and what it has enabled society to do today, as well as its potential to change the world in the future,” she says.
Although Computer Science quickly became one of Jasmine’s favourite subjects, it was also one of her most challenging subjects.
“Technology is only advancing as time goes by and I realised that attaining some sort of understanding for how programmes, programming and computer systems work would be absolutely beneficial as a business woman in the future,” she says.
In 2016, Jasmine and two of her friends completed a project for the Manawatu Science and Technology Fair which integrated chemistry to formulate and produce a coconut lip balm product and show it how it might be commercially marketed.
“Our aim for this project was to produce a coconut oil lip balm that serves as a model for the Pacific Islands, of what they can produce in order to utilise their national resources as well as maximise financial gain for their own holistic benefit,” Jasmine explains.
“We took out the Technology category of the competition, and after this project, my eyes were opened to how the application of science can be so advantageous in a corporate setting.
“My dream has always been to run my own business in the future and completing this project gave me the platform to recognise how integrating science with my keen interest in commerce and the corporate realm could be advantageous and effective.”
Throughout high school, Jasmine nurtured her interest in the sciences, by taking part in extracurricular activities and competitions, as well as taking Computer Science as a subject all through NCEA.
“All of these things enabled me to sustain my learning and understanding of the sciences,” she says.
After completing her conjoint degree at university, Jasmine has hopes of running her own business in the Pacific, and of doing all she can to contribute to the growth of the region and to inspire others to follow their dreams too.
“I hope to operate a successful business in Tonga which would allow me to offer employment opportunities to my people, to contribute to the economy and to put my country and other Pacific islands on the world stage.
“I also hope to be an inspiration to all Pacific people and show them what is possible with a dream, family and community support, dedication and hard work.”
Jasmine would love to see more Pacific people involved in the sciences as there is a need for competent professionals across all career paths, she says.
“Not only this, but I believe Science holds the potential to benefit our people on a holistic level … to expand our abilities in the Islands and advance our living conditions; to enable us to produce products, technology, machines, and services that will generate financial benefit which could in turn improve our economies, employment rates and simultaneously put us on the world stage.
“Science is so relevant today and if applied correctly and effectively, it can directly benefit us greatly as a people.”
Visit Toloa Tertiary Scholarships for more information on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples initiative.