KELITHA Malio is juggling her time between a full-time online Masters degree programme and being a mother to four-year-old son Aiden.
“Raising a son and studying full-time without proper human interaction can be hard and tiring. I often feel guilty of not spending as much time as I want with him. But looking on the bright side, he is the true driver of my goals.”
Kelitha, from East Sepik, is currently on a scholarship from the Swire Charitable Trust Fund to pursue a Masters in public health programme, majoring in Epidemiology at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
The programme is about the study of diseases in a specified population, something that relates especially to a pandemic such as the Covid-19.
She hopes to make a valuable contribution to the public health sector, the health department and health-related organisations.
Prior to the postgraduate study, Kelitha had served six years as an animal health officer with the National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA).
Her passion for animal health started at a young age growing up in her late father’s small crocodile and poultry farm in East Sepik.
She became accustomed to the animals at her father’s farm, and developed her interest in protecting them.
“It was something I was enthusiastic to do.”
Kelitha wanted to pursue a Master’s degree in her field and had to look for a scholarship.
Luck struck in 2019 when she joined the Swire Charitable Trust Fund scholarship programme, managed by Steamships in PNG.
“I knew this was the answer. Now my dream will come true.”
By taking up the programme at QUT, Kelitha had to transition from her field of animal health to human health.
“Animal health and public health might seem different, but the concepts are quite similar. It’s just that humans are more complex.”
More grueling than this shift were other challenges she frequently faced during the programme.
Kelitha had to spend only one year at the QUT campus in Brisbane as she had to return to PNG when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020.
This change in environment brought on challenges, the most important of which was returning to her role as a full-time mother keeping up with her four-year-old son, maintaining a home and staying on top of her studies.
There was limited engagement with her lecturers and tutors, which added to the difficulty in understanding course units, given that emails were the usual online interaction tool.
That was compounded by the frequent network connectivity issues in PNG which are a headache, affecting the pace of her studies and her access to course material.
“ As a mum, I am trying my best to give him the best so he can have the best education in the future.”
But she is soldiering on, hoping to complete the course this year.
Kelitha is encouraging young people to take up the career path to be epidemiologists and vets, as there is a lack of qualified locals in the fields.
“While online study is quite challenging, it also harnessed my critical thinking skills in a way that was different from the face-to-face classes I have been accustomed to.”
Kelitha’s ultimate motivation is the small boy named Aidean running around at home, pushing her to succeed despite all the obstacles.
She wants to be a role model for him so that when he becomes a man, he will follow her footsteps and achieve high goals.
“As a mum, I am trying my best to give him the best so he can have the best education in the future.”
Yes, what else can beat that.
- Story and picture supplied.