From Fiji Times Online (24 May 2009)

A touch of reality

By Geraldine Panapasa

Nathania Kitione (right) with a friend from school

She wanted to be the first female prime minister of Fiji but now 17-year old Nathania Henrieta Kitione is content with achieving her dream of being a psychiatrist.

Originally from Malhaha in Rotuma, Nathania's mother hails from Mavana, Vanuabalavu in Lau.

Second in a family of five sisters, Nathania attends Wanganui Girls College in New Zealand and has been a student there for the past three years.

She was recently awarded an opportunity to participate in an on-campus experience at the University of Otago.

Organised by the Pacific Islands Centre at the Otago campus in partnership with a number of the university's residential colleges, the on-campus experience was offered to 20 secondary school students from around New Zealand with Pacific heritage.

Recipients were asked to write an essay on the topic 'What is Success' in the Pacific Context in March this year. The on-campus experience included accommodation at the University Halls of Residence and organised programs on campus for two days.

All expenses were paid by the Centre and the opportunity was available only to students of Pacific decent.

For Nathania, the opportunity to broaden her knowledge on the definition of success in the Pacific was one not to be missed and she took on the challenge to highlight various social and cultural constraints that hinder success in the Pacific.

One for instance was the notion that sending children for an overseas education would help them become successful.

"I am a native of Fiji. Generally speaking, in Fiji, most parents tend to send their children elsewhere to get a better education," she mentioned in her essay.

"I would know because I was sent to New Zealand to further my education. My parents though by giving me a better education, I could move on to university then become successful.

"If students are sent away and told never to return, then who is going to save the nation and everyone else in Fiji?

"What would be the point of sending your children to be successful in the world if they can't turn back to help better their country."

The bright yet determined young woman was lost for words but overwhelmed with the chance to be part of university life for four days.

Her first essay has become a memorable one for the 17-year old who quotes Andy Roddick saying 'at one point in your life, you either have the thing you want or the reasons why you don't'.

"I originally wanted to be the first female prime minister of Fiji but I'll settle for being a psychiatrist. I'm trying to keep my options open," she said.

"I was totally stoked when I heard I was one of the 20 recipients. I didn't expect it but it feels very rewarding to have won it.

"I'm quite happy because this is the first essay competition I have entered.

"But to succeed, you have to risk failure so live life to the extreme but don't live to regret. You can do it."

Her mother, Lisapeci Kitione said they were very proud of her achievement and believes she has set a standard for her younger siblings.

"Yes, we raised her and we continuously remind our children of the need to have a good education," Mrs Kitione said.

"She has raised a valid point about coming back to do your bit for the country. We are impressed that she has a sense of national pride. I think sometimes we forget that our country is what we the people are."

Nathania acknowledged the work of God in her life and remains confident that with God's guidance and blessings, her dreams of becoming a psychiatrist will one day become reality.