PNG Student Makes His Mark in the UK

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There is no better date than on our 46th Independence Day, 16th September 2021, for a talented Papua New Guinean, Paul Poloka, to graduate with a First-Class Science degree in Psychology, at the University of East London in the United Kingdom.

To get a First-Class degree, Paul achieved a score of 90% for his research, placing him as the highest overall in his class and top of his cohort. Paul was also given a British Psychological Society Award for being top of his University and one of the top 100 (of 30,000) highest scoring students in the United Kingdom. The award allows him to become a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society which is the first step towards chartership.

Paul’s family and loved ones are immensely proud. His admirable heritage comes from Gulf on his mother’s side, and Manus from his father. As it happens, it was in Manus, where his modest and valuable upbringing enabled Paul to complete his academic Primary years at Lombrum and Naringel, and Secondary years at Papitalai. But of course, it didn’t end there, as his academic ambition, and family support, powered him on to Higher Education, with his first degree being a Bachelor of Science in Geology at the University of Papua New Guinea.

Following his first degree from UPNG, Paul received invaluable experience in several roles in the Energy and Mining sectors which took him from Australia to Norway and back home to Papua New Guinea.  This was an impressive journey from his humble beginning, which has taken him far and wide across the globe.

Now, in the United Kingdom, an energetic Paul has completed his second Bachelor’s degree, in the totally new realm of Psychology. It hasn’t been easy, and Paul has had his fair share of challenges living and engaging in a different world compared to home.  What he has brought with him is the courage, strength, resilience, knowledge and love, which he grew up with thanks to his close family, community and friends in PNG. 

Paul was invited to share a Vote of Thanks speech on his graduation day, another quality choice by the University of East London honouring Paul’s successful scores. In his speech he described what was a challenging last two years, adapting to the new ways of studying through the pandemic, and in true Melanesian style, he thanked everyone from catering to cleaning staff, library, technicians, academic and admin staff for all their support.

It was an inclusive thank you to everyone who had played a part in his success and the other graduates. Importantly, Paul extended his appreciation to family, friends and loved ones, not only for their emotional and financial support, but their belief and trust in him and all the students. Paul’s lived experience at the University of East London has been positive and he appreciates that the University of East London is an inclusive, diverse and welcoming learning institution. “Not only has UEL been supportive of me, it is also diverse in terms of culture, age and background, and that has made me feel so welcomed and valued within the UEL community”, he states.

There’s no stopping Paul now as he begins his Master of Science in Psychology at the University of East London this October 2021. With the outstanding support of his family and friends in UK and abroad, and the unconditional support of his family and friends back home, who all see powerful potential in him, Paul will undoubtedly conquer his next journey. 

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