What is your dream job? Growing up, you would have become interested in many different occupations. Among the people we spoke with, some people are doing completely different work from what they imagined when they were young. Being open to opportunities is really a good thing! But there are also people who pursued their childhood aspirations and made their dreams come true.
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When you get asked when you’re a child and a lot of people say firefighter, or ambo, or policeman or whatever, no, here’s Sefita. I think when it was grade six, I thought I wanted to be a teacher, and then all of a sudden when I got into high school, for some apparent reason, I don’t know what your boy was thinking, but he turned around and he goes and says, “You know what, I’m going to be an interpreter for the United Nations.” My career goal changed when I got moved into […]. That’s when the whole notion of youth work came because that’s when, Year 10 was when Carers Victoria started getting introduced into my life.
I was still lingering on the idea of teacher, but then I was like, not what’s even better but a step up is a youth worker. I thought about a teacher, and how the teachers that I had in my life weren’t really a part of my journey and weren’t able to support me, but these youth workers were social workers and whatnot were. It clicked in my head, “Sef, you’re a youth worker, you love to listen to people and provide them with advice and whatnot.” I was like, “Let’s go, let’s do this.” That’s when the whole Certificate IV of Youth Work came into play and then worked my way up to my Bachelor’s degree.
I knew that it was through education that I could actually really elevate the level, the standard of living. Even, just being able to think more broadly, be able to think more greater. Sometimes some parents may think, ‘Oh, as long as you get a job, then that’s okay’. I just didn’t want to settle for less or just settle for the standard. I really had a high standard of what I wanted to pursue even at that age.
I didn’t have a clear goal. I didn’t have a clear title. As in I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to be a nurse, that kind of a thing, I didn’t have that. All I knew is to follow my interests. So I had interests in politics, international development, community development, working with people at the time. And that’s probably why my first degree was a Bachelor of Arts. And I felt that regardless of what I did do within the degree, I knew that those skills could be transferable, or I was going to learn something out of it. It was going to help me grow.
When I did finish my Bachelor’s degree, I did have that sense of wanting to help people, but because I wasn’t classified as a nurse or someone that could help someone in that way, I really felt that need to teach. So I do think back whether if I wanted to be a teacher back then, I still don’t know if I wanted to be a teacher per se, in schools. I think I wanted to be a teacher to people that weren’t in schools or were in a different environment outside of the school. So teaching that sort of way.
I felt that with the skills that I had, I had that confidence in me that I, regardless of what my title was after I finished my Bachelor’s degree, I knew that I could still pursue whatever I felt that I could do, which was to go and help people and help speak to parents, bring life into them, motivate them, let them know that there is this different way of living and there’s a different mindset to have.
I didn’t know what it was at the time when I finished my Bachelor’s degree, but I knew that I had a skill that I could bring to people. And I did use it through teaching coincidentally, even though I didn’t do a teacher’s degree per se. And I think that’s what gave me the ideas and the ability just to think freely and have that, I guess, that entrepreneurial, innovative mindset to kind of create and do things outside of what a structured teacher program or teacher’s journey map would have looked like. And I feel like that’s where it’s kind of led me today.
And Year 10, I started VCE in Year 11, which was hard for me, what I was actually encouraged to do [was] VCAL. And that didn’t sit right with me. I didn’t like that. I knew VCE was going to be hard, but I knew I was capable.
And one of, one thing that just gets me, it’s so patronising, is they’re always like, “Oh, are you Islander? You must be really good at music. You have really beautiful voices”. Yeah. We have beautiful voices, I don’t. I can’t sing. But in saying that, that’s all, they kind of think we are, that we can just, we’re just good at performing. We’re good at playing the guitar and singing. It’s patronizing. We are capable of so much more.
I was like, ‘I am Islander, but I wanna do VCE I think, you know, I’ve got some things to learn. I’ve got some catching up to do, but I can do it. And I want to do it’. And in Robinvale, and especially in Victoria, AFL is the dominant sport in Victoria, but we love our footy, as in rugby league and rugby union. There was no rugby league in the town and everybody else played AFL and not every Pasifika kid could afford to play AFL. So they just play footy at the park, rugby league or union at the park.
And so I said to myself, “Well I’m going to, I’m going to do this. I’m going to, I’m going to go to university. I’m going to get my degree and I’m going to come back and I’m going to bring footy to my community for my people, for the people who are disadvantaged, the people who have passion for this, the people who have, you know, yeah. Just passion and the skill for it that had been deprived of the opportunity”. I said, “I’m going to go, and I’m going to bring that back here for our community. That’s going to be my goal to go and bring footy back to Sunraysia”. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I just said that that was going to be my goal.
I had three people that I really looked up to. So my Dad, before he became a faifekau, a church minister, he was a medical scientist working in Hobart, which is why we were all born there and living there. My auntie, who has a PhD in chemistry, so she’s working as a scientist. And then, my Dad’s best friend who was a medical doctor.
And also, at that young age, I was able to identify what he was able to do with his job. He was able to travel, he was able to provide, and that was a huge thing for me seeing that he could provide for his family. He had his mum living with him, and as you know, with our Pacific Islander…our culture, caring for your family and especially our elders is something that we take pride in being able to do.
And then, just seeing him as a doctor here in Australia, with, as I said, not many Islanders, I just felt that that was something I wanted to do like, “Wow, I don’t see any…” Especially females. I remember thinking, “There’s no females, I want to be one of those female Tongans that is a doctor here.”
I didn’t get into medicine first go. A lot of people in that biomedical course, they do it as an undergrad with the hope of getting into postgraduate medicine.
And I remember in our second year of biomed, one of the professors said, “Look, I know everyone here is probably gunning to do medicine.” And he asked everyone to put up their hand, “Who wants to do medicine?” And I was like, “Yeah, I’m one of them.” And he said, “Less than 5% of you will get into medicine.” And I was thinking, “Oh my God, I don’t look like someone that should get into medicine. I look different to everyone.” But I remember thinking, “I know I can do this. If my Dad’s friend can do it, I can do it.”
To get into medicine, you have to sit an entrance exam and I sat that exam four times before I got into medicine. And I think another thing that I want people to draw from this, or take away from this is that if you really want something and it’s your dream and your desire, then you can’t…every day I’d always be thinking, “I want to do medicine. I want to be a doctor.”
Support during primary and high school
- Peers and friends as a source of support at school
- Support from parents during schooling (Part 1 & Part 2)
- Support from teachers and schools
- Transition from school to post-school education (Part 1 & Part 2)
Experiences of post-secondary education and training
- Experiences of university
- University journeys: Interruptions and finding one’s direction
- Diverse pathways towards university
- Experiences of TAFE
- Short courses and on-the-job training
- Early aspirations and current occupation
- Talking about future aspirations with family members
- Networks of family and friends
- Be proactive and seize unexpected opportunities
- Creating opportunities: Volunteering
Experiences of Work
- Benefits of being a Pacific Islander at work
- Engaging with Pacific community members through work (Part 1 & Part 2)
- Navigating family and career
- Future aspirations
Reflections and advice to young Pacific People
- ‘Akesa – Community Facilitator
- Ama – Lashing Business Administrator & Marketing Coach
- Annie – International & Community Development Specialist
- Ashirah – University student
- Cass – English Teacher, Writer, Project Manager, & President of the Victorian Kiribati Association
- Chris – Field Officer (HR)
- Christopher – Carpenter & Stonemason
- Crofton – Visual Effects & Animation Specialist
- David – App company CEO
- Elisabeth – Teacher
- Elvina – Building Services Mechanical Engineer
- Fipe – Cacao Products Manufacturing Business Owner
- Grace – Airline Customer Service Agent
- Leki – Physiotherapist
- Luisa – Registered Nurse
- Malelega – Legal Assistant
- Marita – Writer
- Rose – Workplace Consultant
- Sefita – Community Engagement Officer
- Semisi – Lawyer
- Talei – Lawyer & Community Engagement + Government Relations Consultant
- Teisa – Medical Doctor
- Tevita – IT Professional
- Thom – Make-up Artist
- Venna – Lashing Business Owner & Trainer