June 7, 2021
Being the mother of nine kids and the executive assistant for a construction company are both demanding roles, but somehow Taina Kaufusi thrives in both of them. At the same time, she’s also committed to improving herself through education and is on the verge of completing her associate degree. Just a few years prior, Taina had wondered if she’d participated in school for the last time.
Finding new motivation
Stepping back from school had seemed like the most obvious choice for Taina after getting married, starting a family, and supporting the construction company her father had established in Tonga. Over the following years, she made efforts to complete a degree — even finishing BYU-Pathway Worldwide’s PathwayConnect — but life always seemed to catch up and she’d put off school again.
But when Taina’s oldest child left for college in 2019, Taina felt more motivated than ever to return to education. She enrolled in an online degree program from BYU-Idaho, supported by BYU-Pathway.
Bachelor’s degrees through BYU-Pathway are built by stacking three skills-based certificates, so the first step to earning her degree in applied business management was to complete a certificate in entrepreneurship.
Sharing the success
New skills learned in Taina’s courses immediately propelled both her and others in her workplace to further success. She created Excel spreadsheets to simplify office processes, led meetings with greater confidence, and improved her decision-making skills. “I make better decisions within the business and with clients,” she said, “At the same time, I’ve been able to use the spreadsheets [BYU-Pathway has] given me for cash flows and put it to use in the business.”
She also overcame old fears through her online courses. “Before, I would be very hesitant to hop on Zoom. I would just put my picture up there and not say anything. But it’s actually made me come out of my shell. I think one of the skills that I really like is being able to be more confident.”
It was too good to keep to herself, so she sought opportunities to share with others. When one close friend expressed her concern over the finances of her business, Taina showed her how to create a budget based on the product and set aside money to meet the needs of the business. Helping others through her own growth brings a lot of happiness into Taina’s life and encourages her to continue learning.
Celebrating the challenges
Taina credits a lot of her success to the support of loved ones. Several of Taina’s nine kids are still at home, the youngest being just two years old. “Sometimes it just feels so overwhelming because the kids don’t want to settle down,” Taina said. “I tell my husband ‘I’m going to quit! I can’t do it anymore!’ and he’s just like, ‘No, just take a breath. Step away from it. Tend to the kids and, when they’re asleep, come back and you’ll be okay.’ He has been a real anchor in accomplishing everything that I do with my education.” Her husband completed PathwayConnect with her and is earning a construction field supervision certificate this semester.
She also cherishes the support of her friend Eleni, who earned an entrepreneurship certificate alongside her. When Taina failed a few courses while juggling a demanding travel schedule and school, Eleni encouraged her to take them again. “I retook those classes and passed!” Taina said. She now encourages other students to persist after failure. “You don’t fail your classes because you’re dumb. You fail them because you’re preoccupied with other things in life. It doesn’t define who you are. You just got to get back up and start over again.”
Taina completes her second certificate in business and leadership skills this semester, earning her associate degree in July 2021. It’s the fruit of long hours studying late at night and early in the morning, some retaken courses, and a lot of faith and prayer. Taina is quick to acknowledge the help of heaven in her accomplishment: “I know Heavenly Father loves all His children and wants them to succeed. He will always be there to tell us that we can do it.”