By JAMIE HARO
Airi Pegi cherishes the faith his departed mother had in him to earn a university degree one day
ONE day, when you graduate from university, I will wear the best dress I can find and with the biggest flower on my ear and walk up on that stage to receive that certificate with you.”
These were the words ringing through the mind of 24-year-old Airi Pegi as he walked up by himself to receive his bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from the Institute of Business Studies (IBS) University.
Hailing from the village of Alukuni in Rigo District of Central, Airi is the youngest of four siblings born to parents Herea and Veupunama Pegi.
Airi’s education background goes back to when he first attended Hohola Demonstration School completing elementary education to Grade 5 then transferred to Coronation Primary School to complete Grade 6-8.
He was fortunate to have passed the exams and was accepted to continue his education at the Gordon Secondary School completing four years of education (Grades 9 through 12). He then passed his exams and got accepted at the IBS University for another four years where he graduated on May 6.
“My parents raised me with the kind of upbringing coupled with discipline and the Christian values upheld, and that has brought me this far in life.”
Airi’s mum passed on 2011, leaving his dad to take care of him and his older siblings.
“Eversince my mum passed on, my dad has been always there for us. He held on despite challenges’ say this because, from tuition fees, textbooks and transportation he was there always, he has invested a lot to ensure I have a good future.” he added.
Looking forward to the day that he was about to receive his bachelor’s degree, Airi recalled what his mum had said, making a promise that she would be there for him.
Her exact words were: “One day, when you graduate from university, I will wear the best dress I can find and with the biggest flower on my ear and walk up on that stage to receive that certificate with you.”
Airi said, “knowing my mom, she would have done it and if she was still alive I am certain a lot of things would have been different.”
Airi said, his mum’s education went as far as completing grade six and she left school and later met his dad.
He said his mum wanted all her children to succeed in life one way or the other.
“Given the limited education background she possessed that didn’t set boundaries in her life. She went far and beyond. She believed in me first before I did, she would pray for me, make sure I did my homework, and even checked if I washed my uniforms for the next day.”
He said one of the compulsory activities he did growing up was watching the evening news bulletin, reading newspapers and books as an extracurricular activity aside from school.
“Sometimes I wonder “was that on purpose?” After all, I have become who she envisioned – graduating with a bachelor’s degree in information technology. She would have been and I am sure she is proud.”
His mother’s passing was shocking news he still cannot accept today. Airi’s mum passed away in 2011, after she was diagnosed with cancer.
“Before finding out that she was diagnosed with the illness, we had this conversation again. I said “Mom, do you still remember your wish?” she replied,” Yes, son!” I added,” I will make it happen one fine day and I want to see that dress and I want you to wear that flower you always wanted to wear on that day!”
Little did he know those were her final moments before she passed away.
“Just like any loved one we lose, we would always spare a moment to think of them, just reminisce and wonder how different life would have been if they were still here with us today.”
Looking forward to his journey at the IBS University, Airi encountered a lot of challenges but had a lot of support from his dad, siblings, families and friends.
“As a young man making that transition from being a teenager into a young adult, it was kind of a struggle because in univiersity, your peers/course mates won’t be the same as the ones you had in high school. You have to adapt to this and so for the first year it was tough.”
He said some of the challenges he endured were having to cope with late night study sessions, dealing with petty crimes at the bus stops, skipping breakfast or lunch, and just surviving on an empty stomach the whole day.
In addition, he said there were also times he had to deal with last-minute studies before the quizes or tests, preparing presentations while the first group is presenting, submitting assessments late and dealing with constant power outages as all class activities were conducted on computers in school.
“I was also part of the SRC and that to me was a challenge; having to manage events and activities and also to juggle my studies. It was a difficult task. In 2021 I became the president of the Central Student Association.”
He said despite the challenges, “I am glad I graduated from this institution focusing on strenght. The challenges and the responsibilities during my time in this institution have helped me realise my strengths and weaknesses.”
It took him nearly five years of study since 2017 to finally graduate with a dethis year.
Airi is currently employed by IBSU working as a tutor teaching Certificate Level 3 and 4 courses in information technology at the IBS College of TVET, 6-Mile Saraga campus.
“Earning a degree is the beginning of what’s ahead. I am currently undertaking studies at the Cisco Academy here at IBS College while working as a tutor for Certified Cisco Network Associate (CCNA), an entry-level information technology (IT) certification issued by networking hardware company Cisco. The CCNA is designed to validate your knowledge of fundamental networking concepts often requested in networking roles in IT positions.
“I am also grateful for every one especially my late mum, my dad and people who have been there every step of the way, especially the ones that I looked up to for inspiration and motivation, family, friends, and many others who have in anyway done what they could to see me walk through this Journey.”
“Above all I am grateful to God for his unconditional love and gift of grace that I draw my strength from every day to face the challenges this journey has brought along,” Ari said.