Doctor Greg Nimbtik, 43, from Amok Village in North West Malekula has become the youngest public servant to graduate with a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
He graduated with his Masters in Development Administration from Australian National University (ANU) in 2004 and awarded his PHD from RMIT University in Melbourne this year, 2016.
Out of a total of 8,000 graduates from the university, there were 96 with PHD and he was one of them.
What makes his climbing the ladder of academic success unique is that as one of 21 children of the famed late Paramount Chief Virambat of Amok of North West Malekula, who had ten wives, Dr. Nimbtik started his journey as a grade six student twice – first until he failed his examination at a Catholic (French) primary school at Unmet and again when he also failed his examination at a grade six SDA (English) primary school at Potovro.
“The SDA faith pentrated North West Malekula through Tenmaru and and we were all baptised and became Adventists,” he says.
But as a son of an all-powerful custom chief who was raised in the boundary of his father’s ‘nasara’, he returned to his village with fire burning in his heart not to give up learning.
His Adventist teacher taught him the inspiring story of Daniel in the Book of Daniel of how Daniel became the adviser to the prime minister.
“My teacher told me that if I wanted to become a Daniel, I had to give my life to God. Even at a young age then, I made up my mind that I also wanted to become a Daniel”, he recalls.
Thanks to John Taga who was then working for USP doing public awareness in the islands for school leavers to enroll for further studies at USP in Port Vila.
“My mother gave me her life’s saving of Vt5,000 and I boarded a ship and sailed to Port Vila to pursue my studies in Basic Skills in Writing at USP,” he remembers.
Then Tan Union political leader Joseph Jacobe (now a successful cattle farmer) took Nimbtik under his wings and put him up for two nights at his home then handed him over to live with a man from Pentecost at Number 2 Lagoon.
With no money to fund his education, he saw a notice advertising CFTC Scholarships for year twelve school leavers.
“I applied and lo and behold, they accepted me two weeks later to pay for my school fees.
“I completed my preliminary when they introduced the opportunity for year 13 school leavers and other eligible students to do their Foundation at USP.
“I applied too and was accepted for the programme,” he says.
At the end, he was accepted to do his Bachelor at USP majoring in Public Management and Tourism Studies.
“On my return after my graduation, I was determined to become an adviser to the Prime Minister like Daniel in the Bible but there was no opportunity.
“I was relieving an officer at the Scholarship Office when the post for Assistant Director Public Sector Reform (with the introduction of CRP in 1997) was advertised and I applied and was accepted,” he adds.
Nimbtik worked for one year then he applied to do his Masters at the Australian National University (ANU), in Development Administration from 2002-2004.
On his return he was promoted to the position of Director, Department of Strategy, Policy, Planning & Aid Coordination.
“I arrived where I had wanted to be, to be able to advise the Prime Minister. But then the Government started experiencing political instability and we started feeling the pressure too so I decided to take some leave without knowing how,” he says.
Then they advertised the Australian Leadership Award for PHD students and he applied. They asked him to sit an English language test. After that the ball was in his court and he started his Doctorate Programme.
He said in his Thesis, he wrote on “Worlds in Collision”: An inquiry into the sources of corruption within Vanuatu Government and Society.
His thesis has 290 pages and 100,000 words long.
Dr. Nimbtik is challenging all primary and secondary school leavers not to sit and wait for someone to help them.
“Don’t underestimate yourself that you cannot do it.
“Be a go getter and knock on the first door of opportunities.
“If it does not open, go to the next one and keep knocking until one door opens.
“Make use of the opportunities to achieve the very best with your capability,” he says.