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Stemming the flow

Success Stories 14 Dec 2018

Engineering has long been considered a male-dominated field, however for PCF Summer Intern Sela Maka, she believes engineering is her calling.

Studying a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours at Massey University in Palmerston North, Sela hopes to inspire the next Pacific generation, especially girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) in their school subjects or career choices.

The proud Tongan scholar explained to PCF the events in her life that led her to where she is today

“I was born in Tonga and spent my early years of education there. A job opportunity triggered our move to Fiji where I had spent most of my primary schooling years.

“I am the second youngest out of five siblings. We come from a humble home in a small village Lotoha’apai Ha’ateiho. My late father was a commercial farmer, so our home was always filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and during the holidays I would go back to Tonga and help my dad sell the produce.

Sela adds that helping out her dad made her see the importance of resource management in the region as well as developing her passion for problem solving

“My dad showed me how agriculture plays a big role not only in Tonga but other Pacific countries.”

“If we innovate how we manage our resources such as food, water, energy and how we produce, supply and use them – we could achieve better resource security”

“I developed a zing for problem solving while in high school, it became more evident in subjects like Calculus, Physics and Chemistry.”

As a result, Sela excelled in high school having topped all six of her subjects thus becoming Dux of Tonga High School in 2016.

Although she is modest about her past and current achievements, Sela is well on her way to becoming an engineer and she explains her plans once she returns to Tonga

“Because I come from a small country and a small village, this internship is my proudest achievement so far,” she says

“I am deeply grateful for PCF for the opportunity to gain valuable experience in a global engineering consultancy company such as GHD”

“This will allow me to be learn how the New Zealand engineering field formulate solutions towards sustainability, and then I will be able to apply what I learn here, in Tonga”

Living abroad has posed a few challenges for Sela, but she says she wouldn’t be where she is today if it weren’t for her parents

“My parents hard work and sacrifices empower me to better myself so that I will be able to give back to them and to my people.”