Growing up with nothing in Tonga inspired graduating senior Holamesi Finau, a political science major from Tonga, to want a better life. Despite his humble background, Finau said he is grateful the Lord was able to lead him to BYUH and fulfill his dream of getting an education.
“I didn’t expect to be here. I once knew nothing about BYU–Hawaii and didn’t expect much, but now here I am graduating after three and a half years. I’m thankful the Lord brought me here and gave me an opportunity to get an education.”
He said even though there were a lot of challenges and trials he went through in his school journey, there were also blessings. “It wasn’t an easy journey; some classes were hard, juggling work was hard, but looking back I’m thankful that I got through it all and am now graduating.”
After serving a mission in the Sierra Leone Freetown and Tonga Nuku’alofa Missions, Finau began his studies in the Fall of 2016 and will attain, as well as his political science degree, a minor in business management, a certificate in criminal justice and a certificate in peacebuilding.
As the youngest of six children with five older sisters, Finau grew up in what he described as a poor family. Although his parents never went to college, they instilled in him that education was important. “My parents always pushed me from a young age that I needed to get an education because this would help me to have a better life.”
Finau said his meager background and rough city led him to take up a martial art at the encouragement of his father. He learned Taekwondo and competed for Tonga and trained in Korea and also New Zealand. Finau said sports were able to teach him discipline, a skill that would help him get through school and life.
Having known Finau since they were younger in Tonga, Viliami Piutau, a senior majoring in applied math from Tonga, said Finau is persistent in what he does. “He grew up loving Taekwondo, sports and continues to be disciplined in what he does. He is motivated, a smart guy, and always has something planned to do.”
Mema’ofa Joyze, a senior majoring in operation and supply chain from Fiji and roommate of Finau, described him as being determined and consistent. “He has good grades, is very concerned about his family, wants the best in life and is dedicated in all that he does.”
Finau explained coming and completing his schooling at BYUH has been a major blessing in his life. “I’ve been able to do so much networking, met new friends, improved myself in all aspects of my life including physically, academically and spiritually. Everything I’ve been through and learned here has definitely shaped me well for the next chapter of my life.”
Finau said his highlights at school were going to New York with a political science group to meet with ambassadors, working in the Tonga Village at the PCC, playing as Mana in the Night Show and being a part of the promo team for the PCC.
His future career goal is to help people. “In order to do that, I need to be in a position where I can do that and lift people up. I want to get as much education as I can and eventually work in the government and help the people of my country.
“It’s not the end of the journey. Graduation is the beginning and I’m looking forward to go into graduate school and get into law and government.”
Sharing advice to current students, Finau remarked, “Graduating from a university is only the beginning. This is a foundational period for us in our lives, what we do at this age will have a lot of influence on the rest of our lives, so it is important to prepare and use our time well.”