Seeing firsthand the gradual impact of climate change on his district of Wailevu, Cakaudrove in Vanua Levu instilled in Sereseini Dikalouniwai Vakawaletabua the desire to learn and contribute to solutions to this serious problem.
Vakawaletabua also observed the negative effects of some developments in his area during childhood. This reinforced his desire to study in the field of environmental sciences.
After completing his pre-graduate studies at Wailevu East District School and Savusavu High School, Vakawaletabua began the journey to his childhood goal and enrolled in the Advanced Diploma in Science of environment of the National University of Fiji (FNU).
She studied at the Nabua campus of the College of Engineering, Science and Technology (CEST) and proudly remembers the role of the University in shaping her career.
“I was happy to work on my ambition. I am grateful for my studies at UNF, which also helped me understand and overcome some of the challenges I faced, ”she said.
“My experience at FNU not only helped me build my professional foundations in the environmental field, but also introduced me to different environmental approaches based on mindfulness and acceptance, which ultimately led to pursuing further training to become a conscious environmentalist. “
“At the FNU, I learned to be a more effective communicator and to present my ideas clearly and succinctly. The University has also contributed to my ability as a behavior agent, especially when it comes to dealing with landowners and various stakeholders.
After graduating in 2011, Vakawaletabua was awarded a scholarship to continue his bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. She successfully completed the online course and attended the graduation ceremony in Auckland in 2013.
She then obtained a postgraduate certificate in Sustainability from Ridge to Reef at James Cook University in Australia through another scholarship and completed it in 2019. This was also undertaken in online mode after Vakawaletabua took over attended orientation week in person, which was the only time she met. his classmates and lecturers face to face.
Subsequently, his sponsors extended the period of his scholarship by two years. She then enrolled in online courses as part of the Ridge to Reef University in Sustainability Postgraduate Diploma and will graduate next year from James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.
In the same year, Vakawaletabua decided to return to UNF and acquire qualifications as part of the postgraduate degree in Environmental Conservation and Climate Change.
This meant that Vakawaletabua was balancing his professional and family life with his classes at both James Cook University and the FNU.
“I was doing one unit for my postgraduate course at James Cook University and two units for my FNU course,” she said. “I managed to do all of this successfully thanks to my commitment and my perseverance. I managed my time strictly and made sure that my work and school obligations were not affected. “
She graduated from FNU in 2020 and is currently the Safeguards Project Manager at the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF).
Through the Special Projects Unit, Vakawaletabua is overseeing the safeguard aspects of one of WAF’s largest projects, which is the Rewa River Water Supply System Project.
Vakawaletabua is responsible for ensuring that this major project complies with the laws and regulations of the government of Fiji, as well as the AfDB safeguard policy.
Its role includes the application of the implementation of guarantees and the monitoring of project guarantees, which includes gender mainstreaming activities, land acquisition, OSH, environmental safeguard and the resettlement plan for the project. investment program for urban water supply and wastewater management.
“I like to do public consultations in villages and communities, to conduct negotiations and meet with landowners and to go out into the field and conduct inspections in matters of environment and occupational health and safety (OHS)”, a she declared.
Vakawaletabua is no stranger to the organization, having joined WAF as an attaché in its environmental management unit in August 2013.
From 2014 to 2016, she was in charge of the project environment at the environmental management unit of WAF and participated in research and scientific surveys as needed, prepared forms for proposed developments with the Department of the Environment, helped compile environmental reports, and undertook environmental assessments and other required areas. job.
She then assumed the role of environmental officer for AfDB projects with the organization’s special projects unit, in order to provide environmental guarantees for AfDB-financed projects such as the water system project. Rewa River water supply and wastewater projects.
She was then promoted to environmental project manager from November 2017 until her appointment to her current position in March of last year.
Vakawaletabua attributes her success to her own family, especially her parents, husband and three children.
“They are the cornerstone of my success and will always inspire me,” she said with a smile.
Reflecting on her future goals, Vakawaletabua said she plans to continue to learn and expand her knowledge, and someday open her environmental consulting firm.
“To accomplish great things in life, you have to be willing to take risks. That way you will get more than you ever imagined, ”she said encouragingly.