From America for Undana and the People of Kupang

Photo 1. Nina Dando Lawalu

Sitting down and relaxing in a comfort zone does not belong to those who wish to succeed in life. It is the same for Nina Dando Lawalu who is part of Administration Staff in Universitas Nusa Cendana (Undana), Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT). She has a strong desire to improve her capacity, especially concerning her duties in her line of work.

While she may be working in the college environment, she has goals to contribute for the people, especially in Kupang, NTT. With the goals in mind, Nina felt the need to continue her study to higher professional level. Her wish was granted by her own university, the Undana, through the USAID-PRESTASI Scholarship Program which she immediately applied for.

After passing the selection process from administration to the interview, Nina was chosen as one of the students who got the USAID-PRESTASI scholarship. Through the program, Nina was able to continue her study in the Michigan State University of USA, taking the Master of Public Policy study program.

"In this program, I studied the process of making public policies in domain of democracy, with strong emphasis on the quantity analytical skill using econometrics and statistics," Nina clarified.

Other than studying in the class, Nina also got the chance to be involved in a cooperative project between the university and outside party in community development and empowerment effort. This activity gave her additional experience for Nina to dare inspiring new activities in relation to the empowerment and how to regulate student's character development activities.

Outside of college, Nina was also actively involved in organizations. One of which was Persatuan Mahasiswa Indonesia di Amerika Serikat (PERMIAS) of Michigan State University. This activity was highly beneficial in developing Nina's leadership skill and self-confidence to face foreign party in communication.

Photo 2. Nina (blue shirt, in the middle) along with the members and participating students of the UniBridge Project yearly workshop 2016.

After finishing her master study in United States, Nina returned to Undana to continue her duties as part of the Administration Staff twice as good. Many benefits ae felt by Nina, one of which is in contributing ideas she felt may ease her work. Also, Nina is now trusted as an executive in scholarship and foreign studies promotion activities which normally are handled by the university leaders.

Another benefit Nina got from her master study is character development. The sheer number of challenges and difficulties shaped her into a resilient individual. Now, she is able to manage all the conflicts and challenges she faces in her line of work.

"I become an individual who responds positively to every situation and careful in taking steps and making decisions in all matters," Nina added.

The Undana is also very appreciative of Nina's current accomplishments. It is shown from the university's support on Nina's ideas to fix the office management. Nina even desires to do more, not only in the scope of management, but also in community service.

Photo 3. Nina alongside of the students from SooChow University Taiwan whom joined with MITRA in performing community service in several marginal area in the coast of Kupang.

Other than routinely working on her duties as part of the administration staff, Nina is also guiding two groups of students in cooperative activities with foreign universities. The first is Mahasiswa Indonesia Timur Relasi Asing (MITRA). This group is performing social community service in Kupang and development of English skills.

The second is the University Bridge Project (UniBRIDGE). This is a cooperative project between the Undana and the Australia Indonesia Institute (AII). Through the use of online communication platform, this project brings together Undana students who wish to learn English and Australian students who wish to learn Bahasa Indonesia.

This woman who loved to read in her downtime said that what she has achieved today is in no small part thanks to the USAID-PRESTASI Scholarship Program. According to her, this program is very helpful in digging out potential and developing self-quality on the students. She also hoped that this program will continue in the future so that more people may gain its benefits.

"My message, young generation must always be positive in thinking and acting. Never feel that you can't. Appreciate yourself and do your best. Always be positive and be open to positive changes are the keys of success in pursuing your dreams," closed Nina.