BETTY KUYEI profiles Rebecca Kiage, the first PNG woman to win the Santos Scholarship to do a masters degree at the school of energy and resources in Adelaide
SHE is the first Papua New Guinean woman to win the Santos Scholarship to undertake a masters degree at the London University College (UCL) school of energy and resources in Adelaide, Australia (SERAus).
The scholarships are awarded to the most outstanding students to study full time for masters (MSc) in energy and resources.
Rebecca Ogann Kiage, from Masul and Ognel villages in the Sinasina district of Simbu province, was born to Wamel Kiage and Mary Bal in Goroka, Eastern Highlands province, on Aug 12, 1978.
She graduated with a bachelors degree in business economics from The Papua New Guinea University of Technology in Lae, Morobe province, in 2000 where I met her in first year and became best friends ever since.
She was employed by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock as a policy officer until her resignation in January this year when she was awarded the Santos Scholarship. She also holds a masters degree in public policy and managment from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and graduated in 2006.
Rebecca is a quiet but fast achiever and her humble beginnings started in East Taraka in Lae.
She is regarded by many of her friends as a Lae girl and not Simbu.
Her education was solely funded by her mum, a nurse at the Angau Memorial Hospital while her dad was unemployed.
She had bigger dreams in life and seldom discussed it openly but confided only to a few to which I am her closest confidante. We know almost everything about each other. Through thick and thin she was always there for me and likewise, I was always there for her.
We are so close, in fact, that she married me to my late husband (Capt Chris Kaines) a pilot and my late husband married her to her air-craft engineer husband Steven De.
Amazingly, she gave birth to three boys and I gave birth to three girls all around the same age. We both adopted a son each and are second born in our families and we biologically have two sisters and one brother respectively, although I am from Manus.
I always maintained that Rebecca’s achievements were my own and we have also sealed a lifetime pledge know our families.
To add icing to our lifelong sisterly bond, we agreed that Rebecca’s first born son would marry my second born daughter. Then again, that depends on our children’s liking (Currently, from our point of view, they see each other as brothers and sisters and we are pretty much content with that too).
Unfortunately, Rebecca’s marriage fell apart shortly after the death of my husband. However, being a single mum, having full custody of her children and being the bread winner of her young family, her children are her driving force for her tapping into higher grounds without fear backed up with blessed assurance that the Maker- who wonderfully and fearfully inscribed her by the palm of his hands, the Supreme Provider and Almighty GOD – would never leave her nor forsake her.
Rebecca departed Port Moresby for Adelaide on Wednesday Feb 24, 2010 , where I left her at the Jackson International Airport along with her young family.
I wept bitterly for my best friend with mixed emotions. I was going to miss her dearly and at the same time, I was proud she was going on a mission to achieving another milestone.
Rebecca will undertake a two year programme in energy and resources at the UCL school of energy and resources, Australia (SERAus) and the masters course provides students with the firm understanding of the main issues encountered in the sourcing, transport and use of energy and resources for the development of a sustainable economy.
The first year of the programme comprises the completion of eight modules, while the second year sees students undertake a unique nine-month industry placement in London, in collaboration with an industry, or government or a university partner.
It will enable students to gain significant in-depth experience of the sector through undertaking a project which is assessed by a dissertation.
The award is an internationally-recognised masters qualifications from one of the world’s foremost universities.
UCL became the first UK university with a campus in Australia when an agreement was signed with the government of South Australia on May 29, 2008, and is now fully operational this year.
UCL is currently ranked fourth in the world by the Times Higher – QS World University Rankings.
ULC has the Australian Energy Company Santos Ltd as its founding partner.
For the masters programme in energy and resources, only 10 Santos Scholarships are awarded internationally commencing 2010 on a competitive level and Rebecca is one of the pioneer recipients of this prestigious scholarship.
I personally find her award as timely due to the up and coming LNG project as well as the global issues our nation is also facing with climate change. With the knowledge she will acquire, she can impart to likeminded Papua New Guineans, the Government and the mining and petroleum industry if she is given the opportunity to embark into any one of these environments.
Knowing her as an extrovert and a former high school teacher (though briefly), all should dwell in well.
Aspiring Papua New Guineans venturing into the energy and resource industry should be given priority by our Government for scholarships because of the significance of the multi-billion kina LNG project, coupled with the fact that our country is on the fore front of the vivid effects of climate change.
Our sinking atoll islands are the residue of ignorant industrialisation by the first world countries.
Finally, Rebecca Ogann Kiage, may you achieve your dream and pass with flying colours. Please do it for the simple women of PNG, and I am with you all the way.
All glory and honour goes back to our Heavenly Father.