Kariha awarded US scholarship

Miss Pacific Islands 2018-2019, Leoshina Mercedes Kariha, has been awarded the prestigious United States South Pacific scholarship program, offered by the United States government under its Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.

Kariha, 20, will take up a four-year Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Political Science at the University of Hawaii’s Hilo campus. She will begin her studies in September this year.

When extending her gratitude, Kariha said: “I am very grateful for this scholarship to study in Hawai'i. It is humbling to be given this opportunity to continue my studies under a prestigious program for Pacific islanders. It is a new chapter of my life which I am eager to begin.

“Education is very important to me. My intention is to develop myself academically, before I can return to contribute to national and regional development.

“In PNG and the Pacific there is poor representation of women in political leadership. This motivated me to take up these studies.

“My interest lies particularly in Diplomacy and International Relations which comes under Political Science. I aim to better understand politics and guide more women into leadership roles. I am also a passionate youth advocate with UNICEF PNG and I believe in the empowerment of today's generation.”

Kariha encouraged young people to seek opportunities to continue their education; including online learning.

“There are opportunities available for us to develop ourselves. We need to be determined to look for them. Work hard, support one another and lift each other up in your own circles of influence,” encouraged the young beauty.

“To young women of PNG and the Pacific - you can do all you set your minds to doing. Challenge yourselves and strive for change.

“It is really important to believe in yourself and your ambitions. Everyone has the capability to bring about change. When God provides an opportunity, He will send the right people and resources to support you. Do your best and let God do the rest.”

Chairperson of the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant (MPIP) PNG Committee, Molly O’Rourke, congratulated Kariha and wished her well in her studies.

“This is wonderful news as MPIP PNG will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year following the successful staging of the regional Miss Pacific Islands Pageant in PNG last year,” O’Rourke stated.

“When Kariha won the Miss Pacific Islands title at the end of 2018, she sacrificed one year (2019) of studies at the Divine Word University, Madang, to fulfill her obligation as ambassador for PNG as well as the Pacific region. She brought passion, determination, charm and flair to the roles. I have no doubt that she will put in the same level of commitment and dedication to her studies.”

O’Rourke said Miss Pacific Islands Pageant’s purpose is to develop young women leaders who are also the embodiment of modern women, educated and culturally aware.

“I am proud to say Miss Kariha represents the best that PNG and the Pacific have to offer, and she has the ability to share that spirit with others as she continues her role as ambassador and embarks on her studies.”

O’Rourke said: “We believe strongly in education as a means to empower our women in PNG and I am delighted that Miss Kariha encapsulates that essence.”

Press release