Anirudh Singh -  USP Alumni Network

Anirudh Singh

1. What is your home country? 

2. What programme(s) did you graduate in and in which year?  
BSc in Chemistry and Biology, 1972

3.What was your most memorable moment as a student?  
i) The Food strike that the students carried out under the leadership of Francis Saemala in 1969, one year after the inception of the university;
ii) Shaking hands with King Taufa Ahau Tupou, king of Tonga, during my graduation ceremony in December 1972
iii) Hurricane Bebe, which struck Suva and the university in late 1972.

4. Describe your experience while studying at USP.
As  the second group of students to enter the university, we were a coveted lot. The two hundred odd  young women and men  that formed the entire student population were a prized possession of the fledgling new university and its first VC,  New Zealander and ex-Victoria University Dean of Law, Colin Aikman.  The VC was determined to make it work, and we as the students looked forward with enthusiasm at the new and special experience of being the first students at the first regional university.

1969 was the year of Woodstock, and the spirit of radicalism espoused by the Hippy Movement in the US and the West had made its way to our Pacific shores through the music and the scant media that existed at that time.  Perhaps this was the main motivating factor in our readiness to launch the Pacific’s first nuclear protest.  We wasted no time when the call came from the ATOM Committee for support, and joined hands with members of staff to carry out the first public demonstration against the French government’s testing of its nuclear bombs at Mururoa Atoll.         

But the scene at USP was dominated by our multi-cultural mix.  Students came from as far out as Guam and Saipan in the North West  Pacific, and French Polynesia in the East.  We all knew each other by name.  Many of us were to go on to make impressionable figures within our respective Pacific Island Societies.  Names such as Jone Dakuvula,  John Samy,  Kalivati Bakani, Padma Narsey , Shamina Ali and others all hailed from that early USP era.  Some such as Vijay Naidu and Dharma Chandra have carried on as members of USP staff.

We were an intimate lot during the week-days, and looked forward to the dance and partying during the weekends. The venue was the dining hall (which still survives in the form of the present CRC, although it has been shifted from its original position), which faced the large tar-sealed square (where the present library and rara is) where we all milled and waited for the university bus between lectures.

We formed a cohesive lot, and we all had our own ambitious plans for the future.

5. What was your greatest achievement while studying at USP?
Managing to complete my degree despite the distractions!

Student life in those days was an active one.  While lectures formed the mainstay of student activities, other  interests were often considered equally important.  Political issues were keenly followed by all.  Talks and debates on national and social issues were well-attended.  Cultural activities were equally  if not more popular. The first South Pacific Festival of Arts was held at USP during that era.  Every student was a member of several student clubs.  I was an active member of the Biology Club,  and a regular contributor to the student magazine Unispec.  And we were also  regular patrons of the staff-student club.  Thus it was a great relief when I managed to complete my academic programme within the specified duration.

6. After graduating from USP, what were some of the highlights of your career?
I was awarded an Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) scholarship from USP in 1986 to  study in the UK.  This provided me the rare opportunity to do research  in Muon implantation Studies  after graduating with my PhD at Leicester University  in 1990 .  It allowed me to carry out scientific experiments at the country’s national particle accelerator facility, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. As a muon scientist, I spent five years doing basic research in the use of muons (which are obtainable from particle beams produced by particle accelerators) at particle facilities in both the UK and Canada as part of international scientific teams. 

After rejoining the university in 2001 as Deputy Director of the USP Fiji Centre Western in Lautoka,  I was instrumental in moving the Centre from its former location at the FNPF building outside Lautoka City to its present location (the present USP Lautoka Campus) in the heart of the city.  We were also able to start several study programmes at the Lautoka Centre, amongst which was the Advanced Certificate in Information Technology. This has survived to the present day, and is now providing the building blocks for a new vocational programme initiative in IT under the present Director of CCCE at the Laucala Campus.

7. How do you think USP helped you in your career?
USP was the place where I obtained my first degree. More importantly, it was the first place where I was  introduced to the multi-cultural experience of the Pacific Community.  I think people without such background are missing out on something important!

8. What inspires you and why?
The quest for improvement – doing things better and more effectively.  I think this is a natural instinct in most humans.

9. What advice would you give to current and future students of USP?
Many (if not most) of you will be seeing your university degree at USP as a passport to a successful career.  You have to realize that the requirements of a  real life  career are quite different from what you learnt at school (which is essentially to pass exams).  You must use your time at USP as a bridge to transform your attributes and abilities from what they were at the high school to what is needed at your new job.  This will require a broadening of your outlook on what is important to learn. And you can only do this effectively  only through  experience and interaction with real life.  

So try to be more interactive and outgoing while you are at USP – try to get as much personal experience relating to your planned career as you can even before you start.

10. Please share your top three tips that you think are most important for our current students or recent graduates that will help them when starting out on their career paths.
i) Break out of the high school mind-set, and start learning about your possible career from year 1.

ii) You obviously need to organize yourself – usually the biggest issue with young people entering universities is their ability to manage time.  Become very mindful of time and the need to manage it.

iii) Remember the one golden rule to success – there is no magic formula:  you just do it, you look at the results and learn from them, and then do it better. You repeat this process over and over again till you reach success. 

11.What has your involvement been with the University since you graduated?
I have been a staff member on and off since 1982, teaching in the Physics Department, managing the USP Lautoka Campus (before it was given the new name) and returning to the Laucala Campus later.

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