Tevita Tuiloa counts himself lucky as a Pacific islander. For someone who had the luxury of living abroad for a time, he came back with more respect for his heritage as a Fijian and a Pacific islander.
This respect was translated into his studies and eventually during his tenure as the president of the University of the South Pacific Students Association (USPSA).
Last Wednesday, Tevita was rewarded for his pride as a Pacific islander after he was awarded the Vice Chancellor's All Rounder prize during the USP's Medal and Prizes Ceremony held at its Laucala Campus in Suva. He is also graduating with a bachelors degree in accounting.
The 23-year old Yadrana, Lakeba lad received a glowing citation for his prize. Under his leadership, the USPSA came up with a lot of innovations that helped students and the institution alike.
One such example was the textbook rental system, where Tevita and his fellow student councillors managed to set up a textbook rental system, which cut the costs of textbooks for students.
"We implemented it last year and it was a test run but with its success, it's going to be a permanent part of the university and it's awaiting roll out to the rest of the other campuses around the Pacific," Tevita says.
Another big help his administration gave to the students are walkways which will be undergoing construction soon.
"This project has always been part of the USPSA's efforts, and its especially sad to see students running through the rain just to make it to class. We've been knocking on the Vice Chancellor's doors all these times.
"I have heard that the budget for the construction has just been approved," Tevita says.
Other difficulties that the USPSA took an active role in addressing were issues like the differences between students and their tutors and lecturers and asking for new computers to the computer labs.
Apart from his busy schedule as a student and student association president, Tevita had to give up a very promising rugby career with the Suva rugby team.
And rugby was something that he had to give up twice in his life.
First, while he was finishing high school in New Zealand and Australia in 2006 to 2008, and then again, at USP.
"My parents, along with my sister, especially my sister asked me to pull out of my rugby scholarship in Australia so I could pursue further studies here at USP.
"I had actually wanted to go behind their backs and run off to Australia but my sister was adamant that I earn a degree first before I consider playing rugby." Before he got involved in the USPSA, Tevita was playing for his USP team in the Suva Rugby club competition where he was picked into the Suva team.
"But because of pressure and workload from my position as a student rep and from my studies, I dropped out of the Suva team and only played for USP," Tevita says.
And now rugby has somewhat dropped out of his life, as he seeks to accomplish his vision a vision he gained while being a wily teenager in Australia and New Zealand.
"When I was overseas, I learnt a lot of things and I made up my mind to make a difference here in Fiji and in the Pacific. One thing I saw is that we don't take a lot of pride in who we are as Pacific islanders.
"You know, we're lucky as Pacific islanders and we should do a lot to try and improve ourselves as Fijians and as Pacific islanders," Tevita says.
As an auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Tevita aims to gain more experience before pursuing a field where he wants to realise his dream of working to improve Fiji and the Pacific.