For Fa’alenuu Akeripa (Nu’u), married life as a student was easy to manage. Once he and his wife had children, he said they had to learn to manage their time and refocus their goals. Recognizing God’s hand in their accomplishments, Nu’u Akeripa said he has been able to see his perspective on life change because he became a father.
Expressing how he felt about being a father of two children while being a student, Nu'u Akeripa, a graduating senior double majoring in accounting and finance from Australia, said, “Going to school and having children has been very difficult, but it’s been a completely worthwhile experience. This experience has prepared us for our future. God has helped us along the entire way. It can be tough. You get stressed out, but it’s awesome. It’s all worth it.”
After playing professional rugby for the Penrith Panthers and returning home from serving his mission in the Australia Adelaide Mission, Nu'u Akeripa felt he needed to get married and have children.
Becoming a husband, father and student
Brittany Akeripa, a graduating senior majoring in accounting from New Zealand, described how she and her husband met and came to school at BYUH. “I first met Nu’u when I was working in Darwin and Nu’u was a missionary. Later, I was called on my mission to Sydney and served in his stake after he got home from his mission.
“After I finished my mission, he flew to New Zealand and we went on a date. A few weeks later we were engaged and a few months after, we married. A week after we got married we came to BYUH.” Brittany Akeripa said coming to BYUH was part of the Lord’s plan for the couple. She said, “He got accepted as a single student, then I applied to come here after we were engaged.
"We were fortunate enough to get into TVA. I still don’t know how it all happened, but it was definitely Heavenly Father’s will.”
Nu’u Akeripa said he and his wife did not plan on having children until after they finished with their education, but said they felt prompted to shortly after arriving at BYUH. “We were planning to have children after our education because we felt like it was going to be difficult.
“We arrived to BYUH in July 2015, my wife became pregnant. We had our first baby, a daughter [Lola] born on May 9, 2016. Our son [Kaisa] was born on June 1, 2018.”
Having kids and a new perspective
Nu’u Akeripa said becoming a father has changed his and his wife’s lives dramatically. “The biggest change was our focus. When we got to Hawaii, we had all these different ideas of how we were going to go through school. There are beaches here, we wanted to learn how to surf and do all that fun recreational stuff. None of that happened.”
According to Nu’u Akeripa, having children has changed the way he thinks and lives. ” It was a little easier to study when we didn’t have children, and after we had children, my whole perspective had to change. We used to be able to just eat whenever we wanted to. If I was in class, I could just go and get food after or whenever I felt like it. Now my perspective changed and I’m thinking about feeding my little child or if my children have been fed.
“We have to think about managing our time better. We became a lot better at organizing, planning and being focused. The decisions we make and the things we do is all for the family and for our children.”
Brittany Akeripa shared on how she admires her husband and how he supports their family. “He’s all about vision in the long run. If I feel like we can’t do something, he always reminds me we can and that it’s for our family and the future. He doesn’t really get stressed and he’s kind of the rock of our family.”
A balanced life through God
Nu’u Akeripa said the key to finding balance in life is to focus on God. “Focus on centering your life on God and serving Him, and God will take care of you and your family.”
Brittany Akeripa said, “Nu’u is in the bishopric of our ward, he has a job with student leadership, and is a double major. Supporting each other and having a family gave us the motivation to push through the hard nights. I don’t know how we did it, but four years later we are graduating.”
She said having children has helped the couple to stay grounded and faithful. “We definitely needed the Lord. I don’t know how we would have done it without Him. We had opposite class schedules, some teachers allowed us to bring our daughter to class, one of us worked during day and the other worked night. We planned together and made a schedule so we could always take care of our children.”
Nu’u Akeripa said of finding balance, “Throughout our whole school life, we’ve had to juggle. There were times we had to miss class because our child was sick. Someone had to stay home. Or when one of us had a test and one had to stay with the kids. Other opportunities around school we haven’t been able to do because we taking care of our [kids].
“There have been a lot of sacrifices. Having children didn’t mean we couldn’t do the things we wanted to do - we still go to the gym and do intramurals, but we just learned how to plan and organize better.”
Tom Biesinger, a sophomore majoring in biology from England and friend of the Akeripas, said, “I know Nu’u is a great student. With all that he does with his interests, job, calling, family and school, he’s very good at somehow finding balance.”
Life as a father
According to Nu’u Akeripa, a rewarding aspect about being a father is coming home and hearing his daughter say, “I love you.” He said, “As simple as it sounds, hearing that makes all the hard work and effort worth it. It’s the best feeling being able to run around with my kids.”
Brittany Akeripa remarked on how becoming a dad has blessed her husband, “He helps our family to be more focused spiritually and on God. He loves his rugby, but having kids has helped him to focus on what’s more important. Kids have helped him to communicate better.”
Describing how her husband is as a father, she said, “As a dad, he’s a very get-the-job-done kind of guy. He shows his love by how he acts, by caring for us, pushing through the hard nights, going to work. That’s how he shows his love. He’s all about his family.”
Biesinger said of his friend, “If you ever see him with his kids, you’ll see how he embodies fatherhood. Nu’u and his wife, Britt, are always happy to spend time with their kids. He is very nice and talks to everyone. He’s great at relationships with people and does very well with his kids too.”
A supportive wife
Nu’u Akeripa said his wife is his backbone. “She has been very supportive especially when it comes to school. Back home, I was a sports fanatic, and I was able to play professional rugby. I got to that level because all I focused on was rugby. I was never really good at studying. Learning was a difficult thing for me to do, but my wife is smart and has helped me.
“We’ve both recently been accepted to the University of Utah for our master’s [degrees]. Without her, I wouldn’t have got accepted. I couldn’t have done it without her.”
Oscar Ip, a senior majoring in business management from Hong Kong, works with Nu’u Akeripa at Student Leadership. Ip said of his co-worker, “He has a wonderful wife. I see his wife help him balance their lives. She is a great support in helping take care of their children while having a good schedule with school and everything else.”
Along with educational assistance, Nu’u Akeripa said his wife supports him spiritually. “I’m a member of the bishopric in our ward, and every Sunday, I get up early and leave for church. My kids aren’t awake by the time I leave, so my wife gets the kids ready and prepared for church on her own each week. She does it all. She supports me in my calling. She does so much for me.
“Sometimes when I don’t do what I need to do, like saying prayers as a family, I get a kick from my wife. My wife is always there to support me and our family spiritually.”