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Amelia Faotusia recently won the Tiri Tiri Prize for academic excellence and achieved a Master of Environmental Management and Development - All the while studying predominately online.
After working as an economist for the Tongan government for several years, Amelia Faotusia became increasingly interested in learning more about development and environmental policy. Her love for her home country was what inspired her to take on the learning journey at Crawford School of Public Policy.
Amelia chose Crawford School in light of her interests, particularly in relation to public policy, which was the focus of her job in the Tongan Government.
“Tonga is at the forefront of the global climate change issue, experiencing first-hand a lot of its impacts, including sea-level rise and tropical cyclones,” said Amelia.
“The master’s degree effectively covered many interesting courses of high relevance to environmental issues Tonga faces and has provided me with the knowledge and tools required to contribute towards addressing them,” she said.
Amelia moved to Canberra, but due to the lockdowns of COVID-19, her study experience was mostly online. Her journey was supported by the Crawford Combined model, which uses a mix of online lectures as well as interactive sessions. Studying under this model made it all the more exciting when Amelia was awarded the Tiri Tiri Prize for the master’s programme.
“To me, it was not only an overwhelming realisation of how much I was still able to do, even during a mostly virtual programme of study, but also reflected and reassured me of the importance of hard work and determination, especially in new or non-ideal circumstances such as lockdown,” she said.
Crawford proved to be an ideal choice for Amelia as it provided the environment and resources she required to complete the programme online successfully. She says it was her lecturers who were instrumental in her journey, from providing guidance outside of class hours to providing as much virtual input and feedback as possible via zoom and teams.
“Because of their ever-present support and guidance, I managed to perform better than I expected to on a virtual basis during lockdown,” said Amelia.
Amelia has big plans for the future and hopes to one day become an environmental economist or specialist in the Pacific region. She believes that completing the degree has been the first major step towards her vision, but she won’t stop there.
“I have been extremely fortunate to obtain a full ANU Scholarship to proceed to undertake PhD studies this year – this time under the ANU’s Department of Pacific Affairs. The PhD programme will focus on the blue economy concept and ocean financing in the Pacific region, with Tonga and New Zealand as case studies,” she said.
Amelia’s top tip for students about to take on a similar learning journey is to have fun and make connections.
“I studied hard and sometimes got carried away and forgot to ‘stop and smell the roses.’ Have fun while at it, make lifetime friends, and establish and expand your relationships and connections, in addition to your knowledge, to make the most of the vibrant and conducive environment ANU provides for its students,” said Amelia.