Reflecting on the journey - past, present and future | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Reflecting on the journey - past, present and future

7 Oct 2021

Have you ever just taken the time to stop and breathe, reminisce, and appreciate how far you’ve actually come?

I remember as a young boy, my Dad would sit me down and tell me stories about the ancient history of Samoa and the Pacific Islands; stories of ancient Gods who lifted entire islands out from the sea, warriors and Matai (Chiefs) who conquered with heart and Mana (a spiritual power), and heroines who saved entire villages from destruction. My Dad was a Matai himself, and all my life, up until his passing in 2012, he would practice, and emphasize the importance of family, faith, responsibility and love.

When I graduated from USC, I felt an overwhelming sense of Mana and pride as I walked across the stage to collect my certificate because in addition to the traditional graduation gown and hat, I was wearing my Dad’s Ula fala (a traditional Samoan necklace worn to formal occasions). This meant the world to me and I will always remember USC as an environment that encourages individuals to be, and embrace, their authentic selves.

Knowing why, and figuring out how

Since graduation, my passion for the Pacific has grown and I recently came to the realisation that the student committees, clubs, and activities I was so involved in provided me with the perfect opportunities to practice what I love. From leading the USC Melting Pot project USC’s first international cookbook – to collaborating with Balcony TV Sunshine Coast to provide student artists with a platform for expression; these opportunities gave me the confidence to get in there and give things a go!

As a former Queensland Government graduate, I have worked across various areas and projects aimed at delivering best service to Queenslanders and keeping Queenslanders safe. During this time, I also volunteered as part of the Whole-of-Government Graduate Taskforce. These experiences led to a newfound interest in disaster management and public policy.

In my current role as Correspondence Officer, Queensland Health, I am honoured to be contributing to Queensland’s response to COVID-19. This role has exposed me to areas of disaster management I never even knew existed and it’s truly an honour to play a part in keeping Queenslanders safe. My overall graduate experience has been especially fulfilling because I can see how my work directly impacts the lives of Queenslanders. In parallel with the New Colombo Plan (NCP) Alumni Program and in my volunteer role as Head of Community Engagement for the Pacific Island Council Qld, I hope to combine my passion for the Pacific and Australia’s role in the region, with my experience in the public service and in disaster management.

As mentioned in a previous USC article about my journey as an undergraduate, I firmly believe that I will one day be the Australian High Commissioner to Samoa. Call it what you will – passion, or pure stubbornness – but I believe in speaking your goals into existence (with the hard work and grit to back it up).

Our successes are not our own

One of the greatest pieces of advice I have received early in my career was to, “never underestimate the power of building a robust professional network while you’re young, because the value of your network will compound like interest into the future.”

I would be lying if I said I got this far into my journey on my own. Every win, open door, or celebration up till now has been the result of someone who saw something in me and gave me the opportunity, or the platform to grow and more importantly, to be heard. I’ve taken mental notes of the characteristics of those who inspire me, and those who I aspire to be like.

As a former Student Central employee and USC alumni, I will happily continue to contribute to student life because I know first-hand the difference having someone like a Student Support Officer or Mentor can have on a student’s confidence, and their grades!

Finally, I would encourage you (the reader) to stop, breathe, and take the time to reminisce on how far you’ve come. Life can be a complex journey and I’ve learned to respect the process. I wish you all the best on your journey.

Jason Valusaga

Jason Valusaga

Jason graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Business (International Business) and is an advocate for diversity and inclusion. A driven young professional in his field, Jason hopes to use his experience as part of Queensland’s COVID-19 Response Lead team as an opportunity to assist rural and remote communities during disasters.

Jason is passionate about Australia’s relationship with the Pacific Islands and actively contributes to building people-to-people connections with the region.

Jason Valusaga