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BYUH Graduate Hopes to be Future Prime Minister

Female student in graduate cap and gown standing outside.
Photo by University Photographer, Monique Saenz

Lorasia Naigia Tavuto, Lora for short, is a senior from Fiji. Upon graduating, she will be the first person in her family to receive a college degree. Before coming to BYU–Hawaii, someone had jokingly announced that Lora would be Fiji's first female prime minister during her high school graduation. That moment motivated her to work towards receiving a bachelor's degree in political science, and she doesn't plan to stop there.

When Lora was first accepted to study here, she came on the Pacific Area Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship for Pacific Island students. She said it felt like winning the lottery. Extremely grateful for the opportunities at hand, Lora began to dream bigger. Since growing up in Fiji, she never really believed there was more to her past graduating high school and getting a job. Today, she stands confident in her abilities to accomplish anything she puts her heart to.

In sharing takeaways from studying at this university she fondly looks back on her time working at the Polynesian Culture Center and how important it was to have the chance to teach others about her culture and meet people from around the world, something she never imagined happening. She's also expanded her professionalism and leadership skills; she developed an ability to speak publicly with confidence. Further explaining, "In Fiji, I was known as the person who would always joke around. But coming here, I've learned professionalism and have grown from that girl who always makes fun of something to someone who can be an example to my siblings and cousins and motivate them and say if I can do it, you can too!"

Female student standing outside in graduation gown.
Photo by University Photographer, Monique Saenz

Many people influenced Lora throughout her journey at BYU–Hawaii, but someone that stands out for her is Lei Cummings, Lora's current manager. Speaking on her experience working for Lei, she commented, "Lei would always motivate me and give me opportunities to learn and grow. Being 3,000 miles away from home, she was a mother figure for me, especially during the pandemic. She teaches students to be humble and kind, and wherever she is, you can feel the aloha spirit."

Lora is preparing to complete her academic training here at BYU–Hawaii as a coordinator for the Holomua program, an in-person college preparation experience for high school students preparing for their futures. At the same time, she plans to apply to BYU's master's program in public administration, and following that, she plans to return home and work her way into parliament. Her parting advice, aimed at incoming and prospective students, is "there's a place here for everyone. This place has been such a blessing to my family and me. Remember that you can achieve anything if you believe in yourself and have faith."

Vinaka Lora, we wish you the best in your future endeavors.