SAMUELA Kamikamica is not what comes to mind when you hear the words, "The Bronx".
Born and raised in Raiwaqa at a time when this Suva City borough evoked images of violent crimes and impoverished people, he is the positive image that is rarely portrayed of residents who have overcome the odds.
Last Friday, the 35-year-old native of Lasekau, Bau, was at Nadi's Tanoa International Hotel, one of 90 young men and women graduating in a range of vocational disciplines from the Australian Pacific Technical College.
"I consider myself very privileged because I took two bites at the apple," he explained, showing off his Certificate IV for supervisors.
Mr Kamikamica also has a Certificate III for operations after securing a scholarship to study at APTC in 2009. The College offers Australian qualifications in a range of technical and vocational occupations, aimed at developing a skilled and competitive Pacific workforce.
"This would have cost me more than $70,000 in fees, accommodation and allowance. I am just so grateful to the institution for the opportunity."
The youngest of seven siblings, he started work in the hospitality industry as a kitchen hand at what was then the Raffles Tradewinds. He was 16 at the time. He worked his way up and the last job held before his studies was as restaurant supervisor at the five-star Radisson Blu Resort in Denarau, Nadi.
"I believe that one has to believe in oneself. I would sometimes stand in for the restaurant manager and that's when I knew I had the potential to do the job.
"I also learnt at Radisson that the industry was moving along with technology and I was limited, not because of my experience, but because of my limited education.
"I knew that I had to study if I wanted to progress."
Mr Kamikamica said he wanted to tell his story so that others could follow, using their success stories to inspire others.
"I probably would have been in prison if I did not get out of Raiwaqa then. If I didn't steal then I would be the one selling," he joked, as he shared that friends still residing in his old neighbourhood were proud of his achievements.
"I want to tell my story to make a difference, to replace all the depressing stories we hear.
"I want to make a favourable impact so that others who were raised like me can also accomplish something phenomenal."