My name is Maaman Ioakim. My younger sister, MariaAriti Ioakim, and I are both Australian Scholarship awardees from Kiribati and alumnae of The Australian National University (ANU). Our story begins with our father's dying wish.
Our late father, Mr Ioakim Tooma, was a strong believer in education and always supported and encouraged us in our studies. Our mother, Rereiti Tooma, with her strong work ethics, taught us the importance of hard work. Both our parents have been our greatest supporters since day one and are our inspiration to succeed and do better in life.
Challenges are inevitable and our ANU journey was not all smooth sailing - there were struggles and hurdles along the way. The COVID-19 pandemic made it even more difficult for my younger sister. While we both had our ups and downs, we learned from our failures to get back up again and became resilient.
Despite all the challenges life had thrown our way, we finally made it through and in December 2018 I graduated with a Master degree in Public Policy specialising in Economic Policy. MariaAriti, who took up her studies in 2020, recently completed her Master degree in Public Policy specialising in Social Policy in June 2022. Through our graduations, we were able to fulfil our father's last wish.
I was fortunate, I got to celebrate this important achievement with him back in Kiribati. He passed away in late 2019 and was not able to witness my younger sister's achievement. But MariaAriti will always remember her special moment with him when she received her ANU offer. He could hardly speak at the time, but his happy expression and thumbs up signalled how proud he was, and that he wanted her to take up the offer and pursue her higher degree just like her two sisters did.
Today, as MariaAriti and I reflect on our ANU journey, we are reminded of all the people who have contributed to us achieving these important milestones. We thank the government of Australia, the ANU community, and our family and friends for their continued support, guidance and friendship.
And we dedicate our achievements to the two most important people in our lives: our mother who has always been our role model, and our late father who is our guiding angel.