By PATRICIA KEAMO
I FOUGHT my demons, persevered through all the adversities life has thrown on me and I’ve come this far.”
Those were the words of 27-year-old Mexie Yakam from Buakap, Salamaua, Morobe, when she graduated last Wednesday with a bachelor’s degree in Law at the University of Papua New Guinea.
Growing up in a single parent family, all Mexie had was her mother Gandy Yakam, her siblings and maternal relatives as her support system.
Like every other child growing up, she had her own ambitions and career path envisioned – which was to become a journalist.
But Mexie’s mum wanted her to pursue law in order to sue her father for abandoning them.
“I was doing my Grade 12 at Utu Secondary School in Kavieng, New Ireland when my journey to study law began,” Mexie told The National.
“My mum wanted me to become a lawyer to sue the guy that neglected us and we had a little argument about it because my dream job was to be a journalist.
“Just before I filled my school leaver’s form, she passed on before I could follow my dreams so in memory of her, I put law as my first choice and got selected to UPNG’s School of Law in 2015.
“I chose her path instead, forgave the guy and moved on.”
Mexie had lost her only parent, the one person who had her back and interest at heart, at the age of 19. Mexie was crushed, grief-stricken and devastated.
She had to sit for her national examinations and completed her secondary education without the one person that mattered most to her that time.
But that didn’t slow down her drive, determination and ambition and she continued on with the aim to fulfil her mother’s dream of becoming a lawyer.
Come 2015, the Morobe lass walked into the Waigani Campus of UPNG, an introvert, clad in cut jeans and collar shirt while every other law student dressed up daintily.
“Given that, I had a low self-esteem as I was the opposite and it really put me down as an introvert,” Mexie recalled.
“I had no one who would understand me truly. I resorted to make wrong decisions, bad choices and unwise actions. It all led to me being excluded in 2016.
“During that year, most of my maternal family saw my failure as the end of my education. Only a few saw my potential and gave minimal support.
“I worked part time with Bmobile Vodafone (then) as a call centre agent.
“When applications for UPNG (2017 admission) came out, I applied, resigned from work and went to stay in the village – Buakap, Salamaua.
“I got selected back to UPNG the next year to complete my studies. I went through with minimal support from my family and used my overpayment from 2015 to register.
“For that year, I bunked with my cousin on campus – I know it’s illegal but that was the way some of us survived through UPNG.
“I was still bitter from the near past events that I was sidetracked from my studies and my purpose of studying law.
“Fast forward, life was tough, when I had minimal support from family and relatives, I literally lived with my friends. They opened their arms and took care of me physically, psychologically and most of the time, financially.
“In 2018, I got into a serious relationship with my partner (now husband, recognised customarily) Greg Guri – who is a practicing lawyer after being admitted to the bar last year. He partly took over from my friends to take care of me.
“My maternal relatives assisted where necessary when I ask or when I visit them.
“I was reluctant to ask every time so I relied on my friends and my partner. He introduced me to his family and they welcomed me with open arms, took me in and pushed me through.
“We had a daughter in September 2020, Cheyenne Gloria Guri.
“I joined the Morobe Provincial Government Gerson Solulu Scholarship which assisted me hugely in my fees – something I am grateful for.”
Like many other students, Mexie was faced with the challenge of meeting fees, passing courses, mix-up of marks, being excluded but she didn’t give up.
“It took me six years as I had to make up for the courses that I’ve messed up in the past years,” Mexie said.
“I did my major research paper last year on ‘Child Maintenance in Defacto Relationships.’
“It was a tough year as my partner lost his father, who greatly supported us.
“Despite those circumstances, I had to pull through and complete my studies. My challenges where huge but I always thought of the strength and courage my mother had to carry on to another day and make sure we had something to eat, we had clothes to wear and that at least we had what we wanted.
“My mother always pulled through for us. She was a person with special needs but still managed to be a lecturer in library skills, bridging to English and multi-grades at the PNG Education Institute. That’s where I spent my childhood to adolescence.
“Over the years, I gained confidence and the strength my mother had. Most of all, I was true to myself – I was never again ashamed of being in rags as I dressed with what I had.
“I was always alone (but never lonely) and I became a better version of my mother and a woman I love today.
“My motto was ‘persevere through all adversities.’ This pulled me through. I lost friends, gained new ones, made the best connections and made bonds that the grave cannot break.
“I am grateful and thankful for every individual who played a part in my journey, either directly or indirectly. Big thanks to Thida Rutmat, Jetta Caleb, Merolyne Bailey, Leeanne Conteh, Lucille Dakei, Cretilda Alokaka, Leontine Bakanau and all the others I did not mention.
“Including my in-laws – the Guris, Saroas and Wafis. To my siblings and relatives, thank you and I appreciate the challenge. To the guy who neglected us, we forgive you!”
While celebrating the achievement of a chapter closed, Mexie’s focus now is completing her training at the Legal Training Institute and being admitted at the bar as lawyer.
“While awaiting graduation this year, I had pa art-time engagement with the Welfare Office – Community Development Division of the Morobe Provincial Administration.
“I assisted clients who were victims of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, desertion, neglected family and other family-related problems. It was a relevant experience so after LTI, I’m going back to Morobe to be with my daughter Cheyenne and my partner. My aim is to find a job in Lae and build my little family.
“My journey hasn’t been easy but I managed to pick myself up, brushed off all negativities, found myself a supportive partner who gave me a home, a family and showed the love I did not get the chance to have. God bless his heart!
“This degree is dedicated to my late Mother Dearest and my late father-in-law or as I call him Awong Boss.
“Living your love alive!”