Challenges in pursuing education is a familiar story across Papua New Guinea. For father of three John Timothy (pictured above), such a story is all too real. Now that he’s about to complete his master’s degree as an Australia Awards scholar, John looks back on his journey.

Hailing from West New Britain, John completed his primary and high school in Rabaul, East New Britain. Upon finishing Grade 10 in 1991, John was selected to study business studies at Sonoma Adventist College, but he decided to withdraw.

For the next decade, John indulged himself in what he terms ‘reckless living’, with no plans of returning to school. John married and had a family, but he struggled to secure a permanent job and his income was just enough to live. He says that life was a bit like a roller coaster ride but he had the confidence and belief that he would prosper one day.

‘The significant thing that struck me to make a change was my family’, John recalled.

‘My parents [retired and] moved back to the village. They struggled to support my three younger siblings’ education. This motivated me to pursue studies so I could get a job and support my parents and siblings.’

After ten years out of formal education, John enrolled at the Institute of Business Studies in Port Moresby. From there, with the support of his family and friends, it has been an uphill climb to achieve the best that he can for his family.

John will complete his Master of Business Administration at the University of Tasmania later this year and has never forgotten the driving force behind his perseverance.

‘The lost time and the struggles that I’ve gone through with my family is what keeps me striving to reach my goal.

This photos highlights one of the activities John participated in during his time in Australia

John with fellow Australia Awards awardees and their student contact officer (first on right)

I have enjoyed every moment of my time here in Australia. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions, it has [also] created new ways of learning and offers a new perspective in life in terms of how you conduct and relate yourself to others and how to be more proactive than reactive.’

John will be returning to work with Bismark Maritime and plans to contribute to the company’s values of safe ecosystem practices by proposing a green shipping practice to help contribute to safe marine environments and communities.

‘To those who think that life stops at grades 10 and 12 don’t be fooled, I encourage you to Jengage in positive activities that will stimulate your minds to keep pushing to better yourself. Refrain from unwarranted activities and continue to upgrade your skills.

Gain as much experience as you can and look for opportunities such as Australia Awards Scholarships that will help you achieve your dreams and will surely change your life.

From a Grade 10 school leaver to now a Masters holder at 45. If I can do it, why can’t you?’