Twenty-five-year old Fuamata Fuatino Sialaoa was the recipient of the Telefoni Retzlaff Memorial Prize of the Top Samoan Law Student from the University of the South Pacific.
She received her Bachelor Degree in Law during the university’s graduation held at the Congregational Christian Church Hall.
She is the daughter of the late Reverend Sialaoa Fotuoagaiuteine and Milovale Sialaoa Pagamalie.
In her interview with Samoa Global News she said she did not know that she would be receiving the Telefoni prize until she saw the programme on the day of her graduation.
“I was overwhelmed with emotion when my name was called to receive the award,” she said.
“I honestly did not know I was receiving a prize until I came this morning, and I saw the programme.
“All thanks to our good Lord for His guidance and protection throughout my journey.”
Ms. Sialaoa dedicated her achievements to her father who had passed away earlier this year.
“My dad passed away earlier this year in March after he suffered from stroke, then he passed away a week after being in a coma,” she said.
“That was the most difficult time for me but I knew he wouldn’t want me to give up and that thought motivated and encourage me to keep going.”
Asked why she decided to take up Law, Ms. Sialaoa said it all began when she started watching TV drama on law such as Crime and Investigation as well as the movie Legally Blond which encouraged her to take up law.
She attended Samoa College and took up Arts at the National University of Samoa where she received her Arts degree.
However, she was keen to complete her Law degree but was told that NUS no longer offered scholarships for Law students.
She said she did not know how she was going to complete her school without a scholarship, however her father was so determined to ensure that she reached her goal.
He made it possible for her to enrol with the online Law programme at USP while working fulltime.
She said this was a challenge for her.
“Having to go through all the emails and the internet was the biggest problem,” she said.
“And of course the stress and all the other things that come in between.
“But I made it and I did it so I am very proud of this and I know my father would be too if he was still around.
“Law school was indeed so difficult it wasn’t easy and I dedicate this trophy and all these achievements to my late father Reverend Sialaoa.
“This is all for you dad and I am indeed shocked.”
Ms. Sialaoa works at the Office of the Attorney General and she said she would continue with her employment there.
“I look forward to what the future holds for my law career.”