Iliseva Ravoka, Ana Waqairawaqa (centre) and Reverend Kalivati Ravoka
There was no sweet sailing for Ana Waqairawaqa during her journey as a nurse. But she fought all odds and has now done well for herself.
Ms Waqairawaqa is the lone Fijian nursing lecturer at the Waiariki Institute of Technology, Rotorua, New Zealand.
Her career, she said, was carved from an early age when she left home to pursue her education.
"I guess leaving home at an early age has taught me a lot about being independent," she said.
"I feel great being a Fijian woman and the only Pacific Island lecturer on the whole campus.
"The students have a lot of respect for me even though some of them are quite older than me. The staff are very supportive and I don't feel being the only different one.
Ms Waqairawaqa is originally from Nabalabala Village, Tokaimalo, Ra and attended Tokaimalo District School and later pursuing secondary education at Ballantine Memorial School, Suva.
She graduated from the Fiji School of Nursing, Tamavua in 1987 and had worked at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital for 13 years before migrating to New Zealand in 2000.
Ms Waqairawaqa then joined Lakes District Health Board, Rotorua Public Hospital from 2000 to 2008 before joining Waiariki Institute of Technology, Rotorua in May, 2008 as a Bachelor of Nursing Lecturer.
"Life then was a bit tough trying to settle into Kiwi lifestyle and at the same time face reality of culture shock," she said.
"The hospital staff and the few Fijian family here are very supportive in helping my family to settle.
"Life has been challenging for me, having my daughter in 2002 and beginning my post-graduate studies in 2003 as part-time student and a permanent shift staff. It's being quite a rough road to success when I have to juggle work, family and studies.
"I just thank God Almighty for what I have achieved and where I am today. If it wasn't for Him, I don't think I would be able to achieve anything and most importantly the breath of life. I resigned from the hospital in 2008 and accepted this job as a Bachelor of Nursing lecturer here at the school of nursing.
"I like the working hours and it works out well for my daughter who is still at primary school.
"My two boys are both working and very independent."
Despite the challenges, Ms Waqairawaqa holds the nursing profession close to her heart.
"Nursing is a caring profession and if someone does not possess that caring attitude in herself, she is not fit to be a nurse.
"I still do casual shifts at the hospital during school holidays, because I love to help sick people and to see them get better and be independent.
" It gives me a feeling of satisfaction that I have helped someone who needed my help when they were sick, I do believe in holistic nursing so you do not only cure the physical being but spiritual and psychological as well. Commitment is also a major aspect of the nursing profession.
Her advice to young individuals is to put God first in everything they do and there will be no problem.
"If you let Him guide He will also provide there is no question about that.
"My work hours now are quite flexible with my daughter attending primary school it works out well for both of us, I must admit I did struggle during my first year of study but if you have a goal to achieve then you need to sacrifice in some areas."
She said it was because of her parent's commitment towards her education and upbringing that got her to the lifestyle that she lives today.
Ms Waqairawaqa said family support is integral and is grateful to have had people like Reverend Kalivati Ravoka (Talatala qase Suvavou) and her aunt Iliseva Ravoka, cousin Inosi Colavanua and her late aunt Ana Colavanua as he mentor.
"I left home at the age of 6 to attend primary school I had to stay with my aunt (mum's older sister) because she lives closer to the school, I used to feel homesick all the time. We had to walk to school and crossed rivers.
"My parents worked so hard to get me to where I am today with my four siblings, I am the eldest child so my parents' expectations were so high and seeing them working so hard to cater for the five of us encourages me to move forward and achieve something in life.
"Both my parents have passed away in 2007 and I would like to dedicate this article to them, " she said.