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LN PicMany youths dream of joining The United States of America Army Forces (US Army).  Fiji National University (FNU) alumnus Laitia Niqara has made that dream come true and is now serving the US Army as an Aircraft Pneudraulics Repairer. 

24-year-old Private (PFC) First Class, Laitia Niqara, is also the first iTaukei student to graduate with a Diploma in Aircraft Pneudraulics in the USA.  He was also recruited in a section that is very difficult for foreigners to get into. 

Back in Fiji, Niqara had completed a Trade Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from FNU’s College of Engineering, Science and Technology (CEST).

“I chose FNU because it was the only University that was offering a trade level qualification in mechanical engineering.”

“My time at FNU was fun. I met people from different backgrounds and got to know them well. This helped me improve my people skills. I also had some outstanding lecturers.”

He completed his attachment at Standard Concrete Industries Limited and the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) before graduating in 2016.

After graduation, he started working at Fiji Dairy Limited (FDL) as a Technical Fitter. A couple of years later, in 2018, he applied for the USA Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery programme.  Luck was on his side, and he was selected to move to the USA.

“Once in the USA, I searched the internet for jobs but was unsuccessful. After a few months, in early February 2019, I came across the Santa Rosa Army recruitment office in California.  I decided to give a shot at being part of the US Army. I passed all the tests but failed because of my weight. It took me almost eight months to lose excess weight, and I was drafted in September last year.”

He said that the first process is swearing an oath after which they have to go through various tests – both physical and mental for a week during which they get to choose a career path.

“Because I was a Green Card holder, my career choices were restricted, but I was hopeful as I already had a qualification in mechanical engineering. On the day I had to make my final decision between five choices, my Drafting Officer pointed out that there was an opening in the field of Aircraft Pneudraulics.”

Niqara said that the US Army needed a university in America to recognise his FNU Mechanical Engineering qualification.  Ohio University recognised his FNU qualification, which allowed him to proceed with the training. 

He was allowed to enroll in basic military training for a little over two months.  After completing the 10–week basic military training at Fort Benning in Georgia, Niqara was posted to Fort Eustis, Virginia for Advanced Individual Training as an Aircraft Pneudraulic Specialist.

“As an Aircraft Pneudraulic Repairer, my main tasks are to service and maintain aircrafts, ensuring that they are safe and ready to fly at all times. This is what is expected from the members of the Aircraft Repair team as the army relies on aircraft for transport, patrol and flight training.”

“What I enjoy most about my work is the hands-on experience. It also has other perks such as travelling to new places locally and abroad.  Also, the theoretical training helped me enhance my mechanical knowledge and skills.”

Niqara advises students and fresh graduates to be persistent and hopeful. 

“Don't doubt yourself. If you have a big dream, pray about it, protect it and work towards it. Work hard in silence and let your success make the noise.”

Niqara wishes to return to Fiji one day to teach or become a Technical Inspector for aircrafts.

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