Sisters graduate together

Wednesday 30 December 2020 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Local, National

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Sisters graduate together
Sisters Gloria Miimetua and Tekeu o te Rangi Ngapoko Toru, graduated from the University of Waikato on December 9. Photo: SUPPLIED. 20122801

It was a double celebration for Toru family this Christmas after Rarotonga sisters achieve their university dreams together.

Gloria Miimetua and Tekeu o te Rangi Ngapoko Toru drew motivation and strength from each other to complete their university studies.

And their hard work and dedication to see it all through paid off. The sisters both graduated from the University of Waikato on December 9.

Due to the current circumstances with Covid, unfortunately their parents Cedric and Marjorie Toru of Avatiu could not attend the official ceremony.

The couple are extremely happy and proud of their daughters’ achievements and thanked everyone for their help and support during their years at university.

“We were sad we couldn’t attend their graduation, but we are so thankful to our families and friends in New Zealand who attended and shared in these special moments with our girls,” said Cedric.

Both girls were born on Rarotonga, they attended Avarua Primary School and Tereora College.

Thirty-six-year-old Gloria attained a Bachelor of Business Administration and Computing and 23-year-old Tekeu o te Rangi Ngapoko (Tekeu) a Bachelor of Business Analysis.

In 2004, Gloria moved to New Zealand to pursue a Bachelor of Management Studies at Waikato University, for many years she put her studies on hold while she worked for ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation).

She was motivated to restart her studies when younger sister Tekeu moved to Waikato in 2017 to start her university studies.

Tekeu had achieved the top student Business Management trophy at Tereora College in 2015 and 2016. She was determined to complete her studies in three years while living with her sister - and she did just that.

Through her encouragement, Gloria got back into the books and together they reached their academic dreams.

Gloria said the graduation was an emotional day.

“I felt quite proud watching my little sister walk on stage, I mean how cool is it to celebrate a milestone achievement with family. It’s an amazing feeling to finish something that I started long ago. I only wished my parents and the rest of our family was there,” she said.

For Tekeu, she was delighted and full of pride knowing that everything was all worth it, “everything had paid off”.

“A double graduation, such a very proud moment for my sister and I, and I couldn’t have done it any other way,” she said.

She was also overwhelmed to celebrate and share the special day with her sister and to be part of the few Cook Islanders/Pacific Islanders graduates on the day.

“Although it was very emotional because our parents and families back home could not attend our graduation, I still felt happy knowing that they’re twice as happy and proud and that’s all that mattered. I cannot express the feeling of walking from that stage…”

“Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. If it takes years to achieve it, the result or destination is worth the journey.”

Both women say their families had inspired them to take their studies further.

Gloria said: “I thought it was the next thing to do … after my grandfather passed away, I lost motivation to complete those studies. But having my little sister here with me, restarted the fire to finish my studies.”

A highlight for her has been the lifelong friendships she has forged and life experiences that come with studying.

However, she admits staying up all night before an assignment was due, was challenging. 

Tekeu said her parents had always been on her back and had always been encouraging and supportive.

“They’ve always wanted me to go ahead and study, I’ve always wanted to be like my older sister at the time studying.”

The entire journey of student university life has been the best years for Tekeu, she created some of her most exciting memories and made friends who she now considers family.

“There were so many challenges such as meeting deadlines for assignments, late nights, the motivation to study etc. At the time it was difficult and tiring, it’s all worth it,” she said.

“It isn’t just all about stressing with the books, for me it was more than that – the friendships, the socials and exciting events; from the first year till now, it’s been the best.

“Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. If it takes years to achieve it, the result or destination is worth the journey.”

Gloria encourages those who still aspire to achieve a higher education to keep on going.

“It’s never too late, never too late to change degrees, never too late to finish that degree – sometimes it’s God’s timing.”

The Toru sisters enjoy reading, watching movies, swimming, netball and soccer.