From a Remote Village to Doctorate - Solomon Islander Graduates with PhD

Thanks to Australian Scholarships Awards : This is a story of scholar from a remote village who graduates with a Doctorate degree. 

 His journey started at Vatukulau, a remote village in Tasimauri (Weather Coast) on south Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.  He is now one of Solomon Islands newest minted Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduates.

Dr. Lincy Pendeverana
Dr. Lincy Pendeverana

He is Dr. Lincy Pendeverana, who was recently awarded a doctorate (PhD) degree by the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra and graduated in absentia on July 16, 2021.

The PhD from ANU, an internationally renowned university, is a far cry from the humble beginnings at the Veramogho Primary School in Tasimauri, where his formal education started.

“I remember the daily two-hour walk from Vatukulau to Veramogho and back at the end of the day in order to go to school,” Dr. Pendeverana says, reminiscing on this early school days.

“We would take our ‘beho’ (food) and walk along the coast. Whenever the Kuma River was flooded, we would take off our clothes and swim across, or if it was too big, we would go back home,” he says.

He later transferred to the Tenakoga Primary School in the Paripao Ward of Northeast Guadalcanal when his family moved there because of his father’s job.

After completing primary school, Dr. Pendeverana attended Betikama Adventist High School where he did Forms 1 to 6, and later went to King George VI School for Form 7.

He then went on to the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva, Fiji, where he did his Bachelor of Arts, Post-Graduate Diploma and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. In 2009 when he graduated with his MA in development Studies, he received, as a joint-recipient, the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for a best Master’s thesis.

“After completing my MA at USP, I set my goal on doing a PhD. I was determined to continue my career in academia,” Dr. Pendeverana says.

But he set that goal aside as he returned to Solomon Islands and taught at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU), then known as the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE). He also started a family, and with that came added responsibilities.

Despite that, his dream of pursuing a PhD was never out of his radar. For him, it was not just a dream. It was a goal and one he knew he could achieve.

In 2014 he was awarded an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) scholarship to begin his PhD studies at the ANU’s Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA).

His PhD research and thesis focused on natural resource management and was housed in the International, Political and Strategic Studies Program. Dr. Pendeverana’s thesis examines the interactions between indigenous communities and capitalist enterprises in the form of an oil palm industry and the livelihood trajectories that emerged from such interactions. His case study was the Guadalcanal Plantation Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL).

Central to his thesis is the idea that development projects may only be sustainable when they are socially and culturally embedded in societies.

One of the examiners of his thesis says it is a valuable source of information for planners and policy makers in the natural resources sector. All three examiners recommended reworking his thesis into a book manuscript.

“I was thrilled when I received the news that I had been awarded the doctorate. It was a long and difficult journey and the news was a huge load off my shoulders,” Dr. Pendeverana says, reflecting on when he got the news.

“What kept me going was the fact that I had set myself a goal, my family supported me, the inspirations of people who had gone before me, and the example I wanted to set for those who will come after me,” says Dr. Pendeverana.

He says he wants to continue to do research and ensure that policies and decisions in Solomon Islands “are based on evidence from research work, rather than on emotions or mere opinions or guesswork.”

Dr. Pendeverana encourages young Solomon Islanders to “always believe in themselves and know that anything is possible if they have the commitment and perseverance – that is the cornerstone to success, especially in academia.”

He also encourages students “to learn from good network when pursuing higher research degrees. Being part of a good and supportive network of Solomon Islands scholars can be extremely useful and encouraging. For me it played a big part in making this PhD journey possible.”

He thanks Australia’s DFAT for the scholarship and to SINU for giving him leave that enabled him pursue his PhD studies at the ANU.

Dr. Pendeverana is now back with the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) as a lecturer and Head of the Geography Department in the School of Humanities, Faculty of Education and Humanities.

Today, as the waves of Tasimauri roll in and hit the vatukulau, they will echo the achievements of one of the sons of this place; a coastline carved with ragged, mysterious, and alluring beauty.

Source: Dr Tarcisius Kabutaulaka  Photo: Dr Lincy Pendeverana

Next : Fiji Police General Sitiveni Oiliho Completes Studies at Renowned Royal College of Defence in UK

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