Sacrifice pays off for Waqanivavalagi

Senivalati Waqanivavalagi after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of the South Pacific. Picture: Jessica Savike

“KEEP believing in yourself and have a thick skin.”

This is the notion that Senivalati Waqanivavalagi had during his course of study at tertiary level.

Waqanivavalagi says he had to develop a thick skin in order to face discrimination for having a different gender expression.

“As a transgender I faced discrimination at the bus stand and at university because people are different and are raised differently.

“I just had to have a thick skin to go through that. At the university, first years students or those that had come out of high school would pass comments and I would just ignore them and would just try to keep myself happy to continue my studies,” said Waqanivavalagi.

Last Friday, the determined 37-year-old fondly known as Wendy, graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of the South Pacific.

And like most other graduates, the journey towards attaining the degree was not all rosy for Waqanivavalagi – starting in 2015.

But all this didn’t dampen Waqanivavalagi’s tenacity to achieve the goal of attaining a degree.

“As a transgender, people everywhere will pass comments but in order for you to make it through you have to face it and keep chasing your dream,” an estatic Waqanivavalagi told FT Online.

In fact, Waqanivavali said the negative comments from people had molded him to be a more successful person.

Then there was the struggle of juggling work and school as Waqanivavalagi is a full time employee at TappooCity Suva.

Working six days a week, Waqanivavalagi says he would schedule his classes for the four units accordinly with his day offs.

And everyday, he would go to USP’s Laucala Campus and access the lectures he missed through the online learning platform – Moodle.

The Yanuca Island native said while it was not easy, sacrificing his social life paid off in order to balance work and school.

“It was not an easy journey for me as it was challenging but I was able to come through because of the support I received from my friends and loved ones.

“It was never easy but it was all about time management, sacrifice, being determined and always believing in myself,” said Waqanivavalagi.

Waqanivavalagi now aspires to travel the pacific and see what the world has to offer, now that she has achieved her qualification.

He also acknowledged God, his parents and siblings, Tappoo Group of Companies and his friends for their support.

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