SHIRLEYANNE Hyukai, 26, believes nothing comes easy in life.
She is a final-year student at the University of PNG pursuing a degree course in public policy management.
She comes from Waromo village on the west coast of Vanimo, along the highway leading to the border with Indonesia. Shirleyanne and her four siblings were brought up by their parents Bonny Hyukai Toles, 54, and Lynette Hyukai, 50, who are rural farmers.
She completed all her formal education in West Sepik.
Her village has no electricity, even though it is about a 10 to 15 minute- drive to Vanimo town.
“It was growing up and living in a rural background that made me who I am. For some people a rural or village setting may be undesirable due to the lack of advancement opportunities. But it is where I grew up and where my memories are from.
“ I have learnt that nothing comes easily. You have to work hard to gain something you want. If you are determined then you will achieve your reward. For me, patience and perseverance are required to achieve an academic goal as a female.”
“It certainly wasn’t easy. Our village had some basic government services such as education, health and road access, but no electricity.”
She remembers the years she had to do her homework at night using candles or battery-powered lamps.
She began her education at Luke’s Elementary School at Waromo village from 2000 to 2002. She attended the Holy Trinity Baro Primary School from 2003 to 2008 doing grades 3 to 8.
In 2008, she was selected to do Grade Nine and 10 at Vanimo High. She completed Grade 10 in 2010.
“We had only two secondary schools in the province – St Ignatius Secondary in Aitape and Don Bosco Secondary at Vanimo, a boys-only school.”
Due to school fee problems and limited space, Shirleyanne completed Grade 12 at Don Bosco Secondary in Vanimo in 2014.
She was then selected to study at the Institute of Business Studies.
“However, I could only complete the first semester as I couldn’t afford the fees. I then applied to UPNG and got accepted into the School of Business and Public Policy. In 2016, I did my first year under the Business Management Foundation Year.
“In 2017, I again faced school fee problems, and had to spend the whole year at home. I came back in 2018 and completed 2019 as well. This is my final year.”
She was one of the 10 students selected for the 2020 Australian National University-UPNG summer school programme in January and February.
“For me, coming from a patrilineal society, to have come this far has been the greatest opportunity to experience and be exposed to the outside world.”
She will be forever indebted to the family members who supported her in her education, especially her mother.
“My mother did her best to provide for my educational, the school fees and daily bus fares as a day student for the past three years at UPNG.
“I have learnt that nothing comes easily. You have to work hard to gain something you want. If you are determined then you will achieve your reward. For me, patience and perseverance are required to achieve an academic goal as a female.”
- Story and pictures supplied by the Australia National University in Canberra