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High flyer

Margaret Wise
Thursday, June 14, 2012

SAN Luis Obispo is a long way from Lamiti, Gau.

But it was in this Californian city that Lomaiviti native Etuate Qarikau Varea etched a name for himself, bringing a wave of pride over his family and his country of birth.

Last weekend, the 23-year-old was on a stage at California Polytechnic State University, receiving his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering.

It is believed he could be the first iTaukei to graduate in this field.

According to local aircraft engineers who spoke to The Fiji Times, gaining entry into the field of study was a difficult feat in itself because of stringent prerequisites.

Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on California's Central Coast, the university is nationally ranked, its college of engineering programs positioned second among public engineering programs for schools whose highest degree is a bachelors or masters.

Entry to Cal Poly is for applicants with a grade point average or GPA of 3.8 or higher.

The story behind young Eddie's educational journey has every trademark of the harshness of situations and hardships endured by visitors to America - at the same time epitomises the idea of self made success in the Land of Opportunity.

Standing at 6 foot 2 inches, Eddie is a shy individual who attributes all of his achievements to his family.

His parents are Tiko (Tu Rea) and Loata Varea.

"My family has been the anchor and foundation of everything that I have achieved so far.

"I am rather fortunate because I have the full support of my parents," he said.

"Most important in my life is the respect that I have for my parents, and I plead to my colleagues, who are just starting their educational journey, or to those who have already started, or to any youth who has pursued their talents in any field, that they must always have the utmost respect for their parents."

On advice he had for the young here in Fiji, Eddie said children should learn to set goals.

"My goal in life is to be qualified academically, at the highest level possible," he said.

"Without a goal, we are like floating debris in the sea."

"Young people must form their goals, focusing their attention on what they want to achieve in life. Living in the USA has a lot of obstacles, which can cloud your goal but without goals, we lose focus and get side-tracked by peer pressure."

He said he also had a lot of support from his mother - who has her roots in Muaira, Vutia, Rewa - and her family.

"I have always upheld the belief that young people form the foundation of any society, whether they are in the USA or back home in Fiji. It follows them, that society has to cherish and support the development of this special group."

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