Meet Zemah Solomon Aka, the longest-serving secretary at Matevulu College.

Mrs. Aka hails from the Solomon Islands, her journey began there where she met her husband a student from Malo Island Vanuatu, their love story blossomed, leading them to settle in Santo, his homeland.

Aka started her professional career at Matevulu College in 1993 as a secretary. She was only 25 years old. Over the years, she not only built her career but also her family, raising three boys in the vibrant environment of the college.

The mid-1990s were turbulent for Matevulu College, leading to layoffs due to financial difficulties. Mrs. Aka was among the staff who had to leave in mid-1997. She moved to Malo Island with her husband. In 1998, Matevulu College sought her expertise again, and she resumed her role as secretary, a position she holds to this day.

Working at a large institution like Matevulu College, with a student body nearing a thousand, presented its own set of challenges. “I faced some challenges because I came from a different country, the culture here is different from mine, my Bislama wasn’t as fluent as Vanuatu’s Bislama, so I had to try my best to communicate,” she shared.

Mrs. Aka learned that school environments demanded immediate attention to tasks. Unlike office jobs where work could carry over to the next day, school tasks needed completion daily to ensure smooth operations for teachers and students. Seeking guidance from her colleagues, she overcame these hurdles and now appreciates the supportive community at Matevulu College.

Now fully integrated into Ni-Vanuatu society, Aka is passionate about encouraging young women and girls. “I know finding a job can be tough after school, but don’t give up. We all have skills. Use yours in a place where they will be recognised,” she advised.

Mrs. Aka stressed the importance of gaining experience over chasing high salaries. “If you work for over ten years, you’ll gain valuable experience that can lead to better opportunities,” she said. “When you’ve gathered enough experience, you can even start your own business.”

Aka specifically encourages women to consider secretarial work, highlighting its value in professional settings. “A secretary is the face of an organisation. You promote the institution and meet many people,” she said. “Age doesn’t matter. You can work and learn until you can no longer type on a keyboard.”

During her tenure at Matevulu College, Aka has witnessed many students grow and succeed to prominent figures like Members of Parliament (MPs) and Deputy Prime Ministers. “Seeing former students in good jobs motivates me to continue working here, it makes me feel like I’m contributing to this country’s progress,” she said.

Mrs. Aka’s journey from the Solomon Islands to becoming an integral part of Matevulu College in Vanuatu is a testament to her resilience, adaptability, and commitment. Her story inspires many, showing that dedication and a willingness to learn can lead to personal and professional fulfillment.