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Graduate Raihau Gariki didn't originally plan to come to BYUH but says the spirit of the campus changed her life

Gariki stands in front of the "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve" words at the entrance to BYUH.

Raihau Gariki, a graduate from Tahiti who majored in TESOL, said although coming to BYUH was not what she had planned for her life, the spirituality and experiences from the campus could not have been found elsewhere.

Gariki’s life took a turn towards BYUH when her original path for life did not go according to plan. She said, “I was never planning to come to BYUH. My plan was to go to France.

“It was a humbling experience that all of the doors were shut from the different schools I applied to. I decided to do the paperwork here, and I got accepted. Everything was extremely smooth. Once I was accepted, I got the answers from France saying I could go there. I told them I had already made up my mind, so I decided to come here.

“I think it was an eye-opener for me to be here. Even if the degree I have is not recognized at home, I will still come again to do my study here. I will get my siblings to come here because ... this is the Lord’s university and there is nothing else that can replace the spirituality of this place.”

Vainui Garbutt, a senior from Tahiti majoring in hospitality and tourism management, said Gariki’s and her friendship started years ago at home in Tahiti.

Garbutt said, “I will miss her just being around and her sweetness. Every time I talk to her, she is like a mom giving me advice.

I will miss her just being around and her sweetness. Every time I talk to her, she is like a mom giving me advice.
Vainui Garbutt


“We always talk about the future, our goals, and where we want to be. I will miss her coming to my house, making crepes and just having a Tahitian friend.”

Gariki said her best experiences at BYUH were her job, her classes and the temple. While she works as an online EIL tutor, she said, “My favorite job will always be being a tour guide. It was extremely demanding physically, emotionally and cognitively, but it is also extremely rewarding for the people you meet and work with. Going to work was taking a break from school, and sharing my culture was a delight.”

Gariki added the classes she attended at BYUH have helped her better understand how the principles of the gospel are related to her future career. She said, “I loved my TESOL and linguistics classes. Because of these classes, I have learned how to incorporate the gospel principles to my schooling and how I want to teach.”

Cathrine Saga, an alumna from Malaysia, shared what she has appreciated about her friendship with Gariki. She said, “Some people say we look alike, so we think of ourselves as twins from different places. I will miss people calling me Raihau and her Cathrine. Her desk at work is also right next to mine, so I will definitely miss talking to her about teaching and how the future will be.”

Gariki also shared the impact the temple had on her school life in Laie. She said, “I have been able to walk for just 15 minutes to the temple and go almost every week. I was also able to serve as an ordinance worker for about a year. The most spiritual time I had while being here was being inside of the temple and reflecting on eternal truths.”

Daughter, grandma and mom

Garbutt shared, “Raihau is very unique and special. I told her that she is like our daughter, grandma, and mom.

“She is just everything. She is someone I like to be around because she brings a spirit I cannot find anywhere else. She is very special.”

Gariki offered advice to BYUH students. “Make the Lord part of your life, in every detail of your life.” She continued, “Every time you do something, ask for guidance.

“Don’t lean on it, but show Him that you are humble enough to align your will with His will.”

Saga shared special memories she and Gariki have experienced during their time together at BYUH. She said, “She was one of my bridesmaids, and I will always remember that. One other thing is she likes to know about other cultures. She is so open to getting to know other cultures, even if they speak other languages. She is still open to getting to know the people.”

Gariki shared her plans that are in place after graduation. She commented, “Right now, my plans are to return home for an internship that I am in the process of applying for. I want to become an English teacher at the high school level.

“Ultimately, what I really want to be is a homemaker. What I want to accomplish is to go back to my community and help the younger generation develop their potential. Basically, to go forth and serve my community back home,” she said.