PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
AMERICAN SAMOAN AWARDED GATES MILLENNIUM SCHOLARSHIP
By Tina Mata'afa
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, June 19, 2008) - Leiloa Fia Tiumalu, a 2008 Waipahu High School graduate who attended Pava'ia'i Elementary School and Aua Elementary School, has been awarded the prestigious Gates Millenium Scholarship (GMS) provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Leiloa is the daughter of Mr. Laupana Tulifau Tiumalu of Fagatogo and Mrs. Lotoifale Tiumalu of Aua.
The award, which can cover a student's educational costs up to his or her pursuit of a doctoral degree, was a great relief for Leiloa, the eldest of six children born to the Tiumalu couple, who have since separated.
"I cried when I found out I got the scholarship. My parents are separated...times have been hard...so this scholarship is a relief," she told Samoa News. "I'm the oldest of six kids so I had to do good."
The goal of GMS is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential, the GMS Web site states.
GMS provides numerous types of scholarships, including the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), for which Samoan students are eligible. It is the country's largest nonprofit organization devoted solely to providing scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.
As a recipient of the APIASF, Leiloa is considered a Gates Millennium Scholar (GMS).
And because Leiloa is relied upon to help with her younger siblings - Faamao Rocket, 16, Ulimasao Princess, 15, Talofa Marilyn, 14, Abraham Tulifau, 12 and Demitri Triston, 10 - she has chosen to attend Leeward Community College, just minutes away from her hometown of Waipahu.
Leiloa aspires to be a teacher.
After completing her studies at LCC, where she will major in education and teaching, Leiloa plans to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She also plans to pursue her master's and doctorate degrees, focusing on education.
"I'm planning to come back home and teach here in American Samoa then go out to Hawaii," she said.
In addition to the GMS award, the Cum Laude graduate (who earned a 3.4 GPA) also picked up three other scholarships: the West O'ahu Realty scholarship, the Lumana'i scholarship provided by the Nu'u Organization and the Founders Award Scholarship provided by the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program. She was enrolled in the JROTC program all four years of high school.
Leiloa completed her elementary education at Kalakaua Intermediate School. She also attended Farrington High School in Kalihi, Hawaii, and graduated from Waipahu High School June 8, 2008, during a ceremony held at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu.
She is currently in American Samoa on summer break.
Leiloa urges other Samoan students to apply for the award, saying, "don't procrastinate...it's a long application but it's worth it."
The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/
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