Sovaia Faktaufon was born completely blind. Currently a teacher at the Fiji School for the Blind, the 31-year-old is Fiji's first visually-impaired Australian Leadership Award (ALA) scholarship recipient.
Sovaia is determined to be among the first visually-impaired persons in a managerial position in Fiji. Having already completed her Bachelors in Education degree, majoring in literature and language, she has always wanted to pursue a career in human resource management and accounting.
"I would like to be one of the pioneers in the human resource field for visually-impaired people in Fiji," Sovaia said.
"Presently the public and especially employers are of the view that people with disability can only be employed under their associations or within special needs groups. When I return from my Masters I will work to change this view of us who have a disability."
The AusAID-administered ALA is part of the Australia Awards initiative, which aims to develop leadership, build partnerships and create enduring links between developing countries and Australia.
Sovaia joins an elite group of seven Fiji citizens chosen in 2012 to undertake post graduate studies in Australia this year. And it was no easy feat - Sovaia competed with more than 100 other hopefuls to secure her scholarship.
She joins 13 other ALA awardees from Fiji who are currently studying in Australia.
Australia Awards are made up of Leadership awards (ALA) and Development awards - Australian Development Scholarship (ADS) scheme for study in Australia and the Australian Regional Development Scholarship (ARDS) scheme for study in the Pacific region. There are presently 76 ADS and 547 ARDS awardees on scholarship.
Expressions of interest for Australia Awards scholarships for 2014 will shortly be advertised.