Fehi Taufa comes from a hard-working family on a small island in Tonga. His father is a fisherman, and Fehi saw him working constantly to support his family. On stormy nights young Fehi knew that his dad was wet and cold so that Fehi could stay dry and warm. He learned from his parents and their examples. They taught him to value education, be faithful, and be grateful.
“When I finished high school, I knew I needed to further my education,” says Fehi. “My family, especially my dad, was really into the idea. I knew he would do anything to get me into school, but I didn’t want to see him in his old age sacrificing for me. I knew our family’s financial situation, but I also knew that the Lord had a plan for me and has always provided for me.”
Fehi wanted to attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii because it was a university where he would get the education he desired in an environment of faith; he also knew about the university’s student-aid program for international students, IWORK. This program lets students like Fehi obtain an education and return home with little or no student debt. For most international students the debt acquired at a university in the United States would not be repayable with future earnings.
Education Is a Key to Success
“The Lord saved and blessed my family through BYU-Hawaii and the IWORK program,” says Fehi, who is studying elementary education. He likes what he is learning and beams when he speaks of his BYU-Hawaii experience. “I have always dreamed of being a student here,” he says. “Being here is a dream come true.”
Part of his positive, dream-come-true experience has come from meeting and marrying his wife, Eunice, while at BYU-Hawaii. The two were married in the Laie Hawaii Temple in July 2014. “My mom was really happy that I got married,” says Fehi. “Finding Eunice was the best thing for me - ever.”
IWORK students commit to work 19 hours each week. Their work helps to offset the aid they receive and is part of the preparation for success they earn at BYU-Hawaii. Fehi is working for the BYU-Hawaii Security Department. “It’s great,” he says. “I’ve learned that keeping people safe and secure makes things better for everyone.”
When asked how he feels about those who made IWORK possible for him, Fehi quiets. “I feel emotional when it comes to that,” he says. “I just want to say thank you for your support. You allowed me, from a poor family, to enjoy the blessings of an education. Malo ‘aupito. I don’t know what else to say. I hope the Spirit will convey to your heart how sincere I am.”