Meet: Ms Sonia, Melanesian Meri bilong Papua Niugini

Women in Success

Dreams do come true

By ANDREA TAGAMASAU

In life one cannot deny the fact that many people experience hardships while growing up due to a number of reasons. For some, growing up in an environment that is succumbed to family problems and broken homes makes them stronger in heart, while others are affected and easily tremble. Sonia Kenu is one of the many in PNG who grew up in a broken home but calls herself fortunate because these situations have made her stronger. If you were to meet Sonia for the first time you would think that she came from an easy upbringing. But I could say that the hardships that she went through shaped her to be the person she is today. Sonia has become an independent strong woman who has graduated from the highest level of her education journey and has achieved one of her dreams.Even though she has struggled in getting a proper education for herself she has always seemed happy and has never let what she has gone through bring her down. Her warm personality disguises the hurt and pain she had gone through.Her parents lived in different parts of the country because they were separated when she was only a little girl. She was living with her mum and step-father through her childhood. While growing up, Sonia’s biological father made attempts to take her back. Upon continuing to grade 11 in 2006, she was faced with school fee problems. She was sent to her dad who paid for her tuition fees and she was able to complete her secondary education. “Growing up with a step-mother or father was very difficult for me. I came across many obstacles but through the grace of the Lord I made it through the levels of education with the last being University. School fee problem was one big problem which caused me to withdraw from grade 11 in 2006. My biological father put me back to school in 2007 in which I completed grade 12 in 2008 and continued to Divine Word University in 2009,” said Sonia. If you had gone to the beginning of the year 2012 and told her that she would travel overseas to present her thesis, she would have thought that you were lying to her. It was because of her thesis topic about Facebook users that her application to attend the Pacific Research Colloquium at the Australian National University (ANU) was a success. The colloquium is organized by State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM), a unit under College of Asia-Pacific Studies, ANU. She was selected among 160 other applicants from across the Pacific region.The topic of her research was the ‘Impact of Facebook on Papua New Guinea Users’. The research looked at how Facebook became famous among the different users, whether people use mobile phones or computer or use both to access Facebook. The research also looked at the communication trend people were engaged in on Facebook. With this research topic and it being the first research of this kind undertaken in Papua New Guinea, her thesis was not overlooked by the SSGM selectors. “When thinking about the topic, I was sure of what I wanted to research. I never chose the topic until I spoke to my lecturer Mr Patrick Matbob. He had the last say, when he told me that it was a very good topic, I put my mind together and said that’s it, this is what I want”. However, for Sonia it was her first time to travel overseas and like every other first time overseas traveler she was nervous and she did not know what to expect when the plane landed in a foreign country.“Before even traveling, I was excited. But when I boarded the plane, I started to worry. What would it be like when I arrive at the first stop? Will I get lost? Will people help me? Filling out little forms for customs was a bit scary. Anyway I went through that, which is one thing I’ve learnt that is not the same when we’re traveling within our country.”Before travelling to Canberra she had already communicated with her mentors in ANU in which they had helped her revise her thesis. While attending the colloquium she underwent further courses in research methods and her confidence in presenting her thesis among other scholars was further boosted by her two mentors.“Early January this year while I was preparing the necessary travel documents, my mentors were looking at my paper. They made strong comments and suggestions on how I should improve the literature review and the rest of the paper. So basically I made changes to my paper and sent a revised version to them before I traveled to Canberra. With the revised version, Sarah Logan and Susan Dixon helped me draft my presentation. These two people gave me the courage to stand in front of the scholars and senior researchers to present my paper. Without them I don’t know how I would have done it.” Upon her return to Port Moresby she was greeted with another surprise, she was going to receive the Peter Gardiner award for research excellence from the Communication Arts Department at Divine Word University. “I’d say I was looking forward to the graduation because I was told I will be receiving an award even before the time came. My heart was filled with joy, I was very happy. I was saying thank you Lord for everything, thank you for the people who have supported me one way or another. My father and mother and loved ones especially my partner’s family.” I also thank Br Michael McManus and Mr Patrick Matbob for their mentorship throughout my four years at DWU. And lastly but not the least my Communication Arts family, a special mention to all CA graduates of 2013, thank you all for being a part and partial of me. “I will not deny that I have been blessed, despite my family problems, I have always received school awards. But I’d say the greatest was wining a scholarship to go overseas, which has always been my dream. Thank Lord for the strength and courage and for being my provider.” “When I was called up to receive my degree, I felt my heart pump, a mixed feeling creeping through. I was relieved and happy I finally got my degree. But I was also sad. It was the end of a chapter in life, and the beginning of a new one, saying goodbye to my friends and loved ones for those memorable times we had together. Everything that she had achieved so far proves that nothing is impossible, that we all can achieve our dreams. Now with one of her dreams and goals fulfilled she has yet to experience the others. “My short term goal is to make my way up to being a Communication/Media advisor and my long term goal is to do further studies and be a diplomat as I have always had an interest in diplomacy. Apart from that I’d like to travel the world.”
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