By KELVIN ANTHONY
Pacific Islander students will have a representative body within the Monash Student Association (MSA) for the first time in Monash University history next year.
Monash Association of Pacific Students (MANA) Society is the newest member of MSA Clubs & Societies, after it held its inaugural general meeting and appointed executive members on October 14.
MANA Society President Kristine Seko from Papua New Guinea said the society has been set up to cater for the needs of Pacific Islander students at Monash University.
“Pacific Island students make up just a fraction of the student population at Monash University,” Ms Seko said.
“If you’re coming from an island nation for higher education at a university with a student roll of almost 70,000, you can easily feel lost and disconnected.
“MANA Society will be a support network for Pacific Island heritage students and allow them to have their own unique voice within the wider Monash University community.”
There are almost 150 Pacific Islander students enrolled across a number of faculties at Monash University this year, according to university statistics.
Students from Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu make up the MANA Society.
Engineering student Anastasia Leisam is from Samoa and said it was important for minority student communities to be represented at university.
“MANA Society is a unique body that fits well as part of diversity and inclusion at Monash,” Ms Leisam said.
“It is a club that brings together the rich, vibrant and diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands.”
Arts student Angelyna Cocker from Tonga said having the MANA Society will help future Pacific Islander students cope with homesickness and life in a new country.
“The Pacific is the only group of countries and culture missing a presence on campus,” Ms Cocker said.
“MANA Society will allow us to be represented and give us a voice.”