top of page

Cook Islands-Fijian supermum overcomes challenges to achieve nursing degree

Paridhi Bakshi

Indigenous women series: Recent nursing grad Betsy Ramalasou has proved motherhood, hour-long commutes and running a business are no excuse when it comes to pursing one's dream.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

This article is part of series we are publishing this week focusing on indigenous women in New Zealand and the Pacific.

A student who was "allergic to essays" has graduated with a top award, while juggling motherhood, entrepreneurship and part-time work.

Betsy Ramalasou, who is of Cook Island and Fijian descent, has just graduated from the Ara Institute of Canterbury, where she travelled one hour each way from her hometown of Ashburton to the Timaru campus for four years.

Betsy Ramalasou with her husband Paul and daughter Astrid. Photo/ Supplied

On top of all that time in her car, she was caring for her seven-month-old baby, running a beauty business, working as a hospital assistant, and completing assignments at night.

She is now working as a practice nurse but still making a long commute of about an hour each way.

"It’s for the joy of my job," she says, making light of the travel. "I love my job, and the amazing staff at my clinic so much, I’m more than prepared to take on the travel commitments."

She sometimes joked with her tutors that she was “allergic to essays”.

"What kept me going were my tutors’ unconditional support and my impactful clinical placements which brought the best out of me, encouraged me to strive and not to give up."

Her trainers recall her as a student always prepared to support and mentor others, and they recognised her with the special Ara Pacific Eke Panuku award for South Canterbury Mentor and Tutor of the Year.

Senior academic staff member Gail Foster says: "Betsy is a student who has shown pure determination and resilience to succeed and somehow she has also found the time and energy to help others achieve too."

Ramalasou dedicated her degree to her late father Reoreka Ngutu and father-in-law Kemueli Ramalasou as well as to her husband and her daughter.

Reflecting on the challenges she’s faced, she says, "I look back on what I 've achieved and know that this was the best decision I ever made."

Hero image: Betsy Ramalasou accepting the prestigious Ara Pacific Eke Panuku Award at her graduation. Photo / Supplied

bottom of page