Chelcia came to Victoria University of Wellington from the Solomon Islands with some leadership experience, but says VILP opened up a whole new perspective.
Leadership and people
“I learned from VILP that leadership is more than just leading a group of people towards achieving a common goal. Leadership is being part of those you lead. You have to have the heart and respect for the people.”
Gaining more than just a qualification
Chelcia came to the University on a New Zealand Aid Scholarship to gain a Postgraduate diploma in Environmental Studies. But she wanted more out of her university experience than just a qualification.
“When I decided to study in New Zealand, I made up my mind that the experience I was going to bring back to my home country would be more than just academic. I wanted to be able to contribute to society, and more importantly, I wanted to make a difference. VILP was one of the reasons why I chose to study at Victoria,” she says.
Learning from the experts
Chelcia particularly enjoyed being able to attend seminars through the programme.
“The seminars helped me communicate effectively with people from the region and abroad. And also being in the capital city, you get to hear from really high-profile people from Parliament and experts from overseas.”
Bringing education to communities
Chelcia put her VILP skills into practice as president of the University’s Melanesian Students’ Association. She looks forward to gaining more experience when she returns to the Solomons where she has already started a number of not-for-profit community development projects.
Her initial focus is on environmental awareness and education, and she is currently building a library for children in her community. “I am very fortunate to be able to get a good education, but there are a lot of children who don’t have the same opportunity as I do. I don’t have the money to send all the children to read books in school, so I’m sending the books to them.”
Finding her passion
Chelcia says the programme’s networking and volunteering opportunities not only connected her to people and organisations in the environmental sector, VILP was also a fun, practical way of gaining skills such as critical thinking and improving confidence.
“VILP is a great programme and will always be one of my best memories at Victoria. It has made me more passionate about leadership. In the end, I not only found something that I love to do, but I found myself,” she says.