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Tears of joy as Bougainville students cross graduate stage

Tears of joy as Bougainville students cross graduate stage

Published:06 December 2017

Raquel Painaq, the First Secretary to Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Bougainville Affairs, is pictured seated front left. BELOW: Jamillah Cheung pictured just before crossing the stage.

“I’m so excited I could cry!”

That comment came from Raquel Painaq, the First Secretary to Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Bougainville Affairs, who attended this week’s CQUni Rockhampton graduation ceremony to congratulate a dozen Bougainville students.

“We really went through a lot of challenges to get them here, but CQUni and Rockhampton Girls Grammar School really embraced us, so to see them graduate today makes me cry,” Ms Painaq continued.

These Bougainville students have completed a Certificate IV in Business as part of a customised program at CQUniversity. Most were sponsored by their home province.

The female Bougainville students have been boarding at Rockhampton Girls’ Grammar School, while the males have been hosted by local HomeStay families.

Thanks to the customised professional development components of their study, all 12 of the Bougainville students intend to progress into CQUni bachelor degree studies across a range of disciplines in Rockhampton in 2018.

After completion of their degrees, it’s expected they will return to their remote province to work in professional roles for the enrichment and development of Bougainville.

“We’d like them to come home but if there is an opportunity for them to work in Australia or elsewhere they will still be able to contribute to Bougainville in the longer-term,” Ms Painaq said.

Ms Painaq confirmed that progress was being made for the next cohort of Bougainville students to arrive at CQUni in 2018.

One of the pilot cohort, Jamillah Cheung says she had enjoyed her classes and visiting Yeppoon, Rockhampton and Gladstone areas.

“We did have the chance to sit in on a few lectures this year but next year when I’m starting my Business Management degree at CQUniversity I’m looking forward to mingling more with other students can getting to know them better,” Jamillah said.

“Rockhampton is much bigger and different to my home town of Bougainville but I’m starting to feel more at home.”