By ZEDAIAH KANAU
IT’S about getting the basics right, little things that add up to big things.
You’ve probably heard this saying a thousand times over but for one young lady, this principle has yielded a high-school dux award for social sciences, a law degree with second class honours and a Supreme Court award (dux) at the Legal Training Institute.
All of these achievements had led to Fingkewe Zurenuoc’s being admitted to the bar on Dec 13 as a certified practising lawyer in the National and Supreme Courts of Papua New Guinea.
Fingkewe Zurenuoc, 23 is from a Morobe father and an East New Britain mother.
She is the daughter of former Chief Secretary, the late Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc and Lady Josephine Zurenuoc.
Fingkewe was born in Lae, Morobe and did grades one to six from 2002 to 2008 at St Mary’s Primary School.
Her father was the Morobe provincial administrator and a practicing lawyer before that.
When her father was transferred to Port Moresby in late 2008, Fingkewe enrolled at Ted Diro Primary School where she finished her primary education in 2010.
“In 2008 we moved to Port Moresby because dad was going to be the Secretary for the Department of Provincial and Local Government Affairs and after that he became the Chief Secretary to the Government until he retired and went back to Lae in 2016.
“Mom was an office administrator at the Anderson’s Foodland supermarket in Lae for almost 20 years and when we moved here (Port Moresby) she assumed a role with Steel Industries as an office manager.”
Fingkewe was selected to do grade nine at Jubilee Secondary School in 2011 where she stayed for the next four years to complete her secondary education.
When at Jubilee, Fingkewe developed a passion for helping others especially through community services.
Her positive outlook to life and involvement in the school’s many extra-curricular activities had earned her the position of school head girl at the latter part of 2013 during grade 11.
Young lawyer Fingkewe Zurenuoc follows in the footsteps of her aunt and late father.
“I was privileged to go to Jubilee since it was a Lasallian school and it had its affiliations with the Lasallian Youth Ministry. It was more than going to school and learning as we were given the opportunity to be involved in extra-curricular activities based on the three Lasallian pillars of faith, service and community,” she said.
“We had club activities and different camps and retreats which were aimed at giving us a holistic education so that we gain confidence, develop leadership skills, form lasting friendships and cultivate good character.”
At the start of 2014, Fingkewe travelled to Sydney representing Jubilee Secondary School with other Lasallian student leaders from De La Salle and Hohola Youth Development Centre (now La Salle College Hohola) to attend the annual Lasallian Student Leadership Seminar.
The seminar aimed to equip the student leaders with leadership tools so that they can go back and carry out their duties in their own school.
In March 2014, Fingkewe’s dad fell ill and was later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Though it dampened her spirits that year, she managed to overcome the emotional hurdle and pass her final year (grade 12) at Jubilee with flying colours, taking out the dux awards for social sciences and receiving a leadership award.
A placing at the University of Papua New Guinea’s (UPNG) law school was beckoning due to Fingkewe’s outstanding academic achievements.
“When coming to UPNG, I reminded myself that I was not in competition with anyone but myself and so I did my work with that mindset. I always thought of every experience, whether good or bad, as a learning experience and to aim to be better than I was yesterday.
Fingkewe’s passion for helping others prompted her to join The Voice Inc., a dynamic youth development organisation based in Port Moresby with centres in the state-run universities.
“I joined The Voice Inc (TVI) when I went to UPNG and was part of the three-year leadership development programme. I was drawn to TVI’s approach towards working with young people and helping us realise that we have just as much of an important role to play in nation building as well. It was enriching because it provided a platform to meet people who are excelling in their fields and making a change and gave you the opportunity to learn from them.”
During the second semester of her second year, Fingkewe’s dad passed away.
“It was a difficult time for me as my dad passed away during the exam week. I had to put my exams on hold and go to Lae. My lecturers were very understanding and allowed me to sit my exams a bit later than everyone else. It was difficult returning to sit my exams after just burying my father but it helped that I reminded myself of how he always stressed about the importance of education.”
A few months after her dad’s passing, Fingkewe managed to secure a job with Ashurst PNG, an international law firm based in Port Moresby with offices all around the world.
“They came to school and shortlisted the top five third and fourth year law students and allowed us to write expressions of interest to work with them as librarians. I applied and was fortunate enough to be offered a job.
“So in the latter part of 2017 and the whole of 2018 I worked while I was in school which helped me to make my own money after my dad died, which was also my first real job. It also helped me mature in so many ways as I developed a sense of independence and responsibility. As a law student, I learnt so much from the lawyers and support staff at Ashurst and used the resources available to my advantage.”
Fingkewe successfully completed her final year of studies (2018) and on April 26 last year she was one of four girls to graduate with second class honours in Law at UPNG.
“I wanted to be a commercial lawyer but when I entered LTI, I was open to exploring everything that’s offered there (LTI) and to see where my strengths and weaknesses are.
“In my family, my dad was a lawyer but went into public service and I have an aunt who is a lawyer too, a criminal lawyer (prosecutor) so I guess I just wanted to do something different as a lawyer.”
On Nov 29 during the LTI graduation, Fingkewe received the Supreme Court award after finishing first in six of her subjects.
“It all comes down to getting the basics right, little things add up to big things,” she says.
“If you start being lazy in school, then you’ll be a lazy worker when employed. Simple rules like no chewing and smoking in the work place and coming into work on time need to be maintained.
“These builds your character and attitude and has an impact on how you contribute as a citizen.
“Active citizenship is about knowing your place in society and how best you can contribute.”