USSP 2018 Alumni Conference

U.S. South Pacific Scholarship Program 2018 Alumni Participants
U.S. South Pacific Scholarship Program 2018 Alumni Participants

To kick off the U.S. South Pacific Scholarship Program’s 25th Anniversary celebration in 2019, the East-West Center in collaboration with U.S. Department of State brought together 40 USSP Alumni with the focus to foster connections between U.S. university-educated USSP alumni and American companies in the Pacific Islands region.  Six Samoan alumni attended the program and shared their respective life journeys since graduating from the scholarship program.  They also offered invaluable insights as to how East West Center and the U.S. Department of State can improve their programs throughout the region.

Held from December 7 – 9 at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort in Sigatoka, the three-day conference was co-sponsored by the East-West Center, U.S. Embassy-Suva, Matson South Pacific, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, Dr. Bronner’s, and Serendi Coco.

Panel discussion on “Alumna Reflections: Pacific Women in the Workplace – Local & Regional Challenges & Experiences.”
Panel discussion on “Alumna Reflections: Pacific Women in the Workplace – Local & Regional Challenges & Experiences.”

Biography of Samoa’s USSP Alumni.

Litia Brighouse-Fuavao gained her Master of Human Resource Management from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in December 2009 under East West Centre’s USSP Scholarship program, where she also did a short stint as an intern for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Washington, D.C. Litia has over 10 years’ experience in the private and not for the profit sectors, having worked in real estate, human resources for a regional environment organization, and managing two private sector NGOs in Samoa. She moved to New Zealand in 2013, where she currently resides with her husband and 1 year old son. Litia is currently an advisor to elected members and other politicians in the Auckland City Council. When she’s not working or spending time with family, landscape photography is one of Litia’s favorite hobbies.

Rosia Curry (Tavita) received her Bachelors in Education from the University of Hawaii in 2000.  Today, she is a Program Specialist at the Administration for Native Americans(ANA) in Washington, D.C. Over the last 4 years, Curry oversaw grants that provided jobs, business start-ups, social services, and Native language preservation efforts for native communities. She led her operations team through an initiative that resulted in the ANA Grants Application Toolkit, a resource for applications, especially those who have not applied for grants before. Grounded in her Samoan culture, where service to others and respect is paramount to being a good leader, Rosia is committed to building strong communities and helping those less fortunate.

Harriet Jull (Kirkpatrick) received her Bachelors in Accounting from the University of Hawaii in 1999.  She currently resides in NZ with her husband Matt Jull and her 4 boys, and works full-time as the Accountant & Office Manager for environmentally friendly Wastewater Treatment Manufacturer BIOLYTIX. She and her husband have several other businesses which include business mentoring, digital marketing automation, and social services APP MyRIVR. She currently sits as a corporate director and as trustee on several boards, and spreads her time over family, volunteer work, and business as best she can.

Tony Siamomua’s father is from Samoa and his mother is from Tonga. He pursued a Master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of Hawaii under the USSP scholarship program from August 2005 to May 2008. After graduating, Tony worked in Tonga for few private sector firms, mostly carrying out management, marketing and policy work. After a few years, he moved and worked with the University of the South Pacific Alafua, mostly working with student life and community building.

Lisa Fatimailetaelelemoemoeoaana Vaai is a board director of I.H. Carruthers Ltd and leads the creative team in developing and sourcing new products and designs for the company’s several apparel brands. She also oversees international export expansions in Japan, USA and Pacific. She was a USSP scholarship recipient at the East-West Center from 2001 – 2005. She finished her Bachelor’s degree in Economics at the City University of New York (CUNY).

Filifotu Vaai is a USSP alumni who graduated from University of Hawaii Manoa with a Master’s degree in Communications majoring in Telecommunications and a Graduate Certificate in Telecommunications and Information Resource Management in 2008. As part of her USSP experience she interned at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington DC in 2006. Her career is built on her passion for technology, and its adoption, specifically the role of the Internet in accelerating economic growth in the Pacific. She recently moved to Hawaii in 2017 where she works as the Director for Business Product Management for Hawaiian Telecom. Prior to moving to the US with her family, she worked for Bluesky Communications for over 8 years as Driector for Bluesky Group from 2011 – 2015 and as the Country Manager for Bluesky’s American Samoa operations from 2015 – 2017. Ms. Vaai was born and grew up in Samoa, and also has a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.  She currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and two daughters.

Samoa’s USSP Alumna (L-R Fotu Vaai, Rosia Curry, Harriett Jull, Benjamin Harding (US Embassy Apia), Litia Brighouse, Lisa Vaai, and Tony Siamomua)
Samoa’s USSP Alumna (L-R Fotu Vaai, Rosia Curry, Harriett Jull, Benjamin Harding (US Embassy Apia), Litia Brighouse, Lisa Vaai, and Tony Siamomua)


The U.S. South Pacific Scholarship Program (USSP), authorized by the U.S. Congress and funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is a merit-based scholarship program that provides opportunities for degree study at the University of Hawai‘i in fields that are directly relevant to the development needs of Pacific Island. The program is administered by the East-West Center in Honolulu. More at:  Applicants interested in the 2019 scholarship can apply here: .