Asenaca Baikirewa completes MSc International Hospitality and Tourism Management degree
A new University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduate who combined returning to education with being a military wife and mum-of-one is celebrating her academic success.
Asenaca Baikirewa, originally from Fiji, had to juggle studying full-time for her MSc International Hospitality and Tourism Management degree while parenting her five-year-old son, Nicholas.
The 33-year-old’s husband, Saula, was deployed overseas for a large majority of the time she was studying in Preston, meaning it was a real balancing act for Asenaca.
She said: “As a military wife and mom, it was not easy. My husband was deployed throughout my entire course, ironically whenever there was a term break, he was around but as soon as the term started, he was deployed for work again.
“It did mean I had to juggle my duties as a wife, a mother, and a student but I made it to the end and all these difficulties were worth it as completing the course benefits my family and I in the future.”
Asenaca, who graduated with a distinction, returned to education by enrolling at UCLan six years after completing her hospitality and tourism management undergraduate course at Hawaii’s Brigham Young University. She is used to living in different countries due to her husband’s career, but it was very fortunate that she arrived in the North West.
She said: “Pre-Covid we were posted in Cyprus and were getting ready to move back to England. My passion is in being in service to others, specifically in the hospitality and tourism industry as it can be applied into any field of work. I decided it would be great to continue the course at a master’s level and when I searched for universities, I soon realised UCLan was the only one that did both hospitality and tourism at Level 7 and it was my closest University too.
“I soon learned how diverse the campus was, which was a massive bonus for me as I love learning about other’s cultures, and the lecturer and my fellow classmates were fantastic.”
Asenaca, who was “ecstatic” that Saula was able to witness her walking across the graduation stage in person, commented: “It feels surreal to have graduated. I am relieved, happy, humbled, and grateful that I was able to continue furthering my education here at UCLan.”
In regards to her future career plans, she added: “Military families know that because we move so often, we learn to embrace the challenge, adapt and be flexible in every aspect of life, keeping an open perspective with work.
“Maybe we will finally be posted somewhere in the near future that is closer to a hotel that I would love to work at or I might continue with my studies and work towards a doctorate but for now, I look forward to working with the Ministry of Defence in their administration team.”