Christopher Hazelman -  USP Alumni Network

Name: Christopher Hazelman
Country: Samoa
Programme: Bachelor of Arts

Why did you choose your field of study? I was more interested in these subjects than others as a secondary level student.

Briefly reflect on your student life at USP? I was 19 years old as s first year, hence still immature and probably more focused on my social life more than my studies. However living on campus in the Halls of Residence was such a great experience where life-long friendships began with students from around the region. Learning different cultures and languages building relationships that were cemented as a Geography major, especially when we went on 2-3 day fieldtrips. As for Sociology, I spent so much time in the library with classmates trying to understand every second word from the many readings and supplementary readings. So much so that by 300 level, some of the papers in philosophy really challenged my own personal beliefs and faith as a 21 year old.
Socially, it was a time of personal growth in learning the realities of being independent, becoming an adult, making mistakes along the way and learning from them.

Greatest achievement[s] as a student Personally USP brought out the leader in me and learning what it means to be a leader. Learning to listen and listen carefully to what others are saying. I was an RA in the Halls of Residence, hence I was learning to be flexible as you’re dealing with different people from different environments and they all have their own unique perspectives in life.
My faith as a Catholic was strengthened through our Catholic Students Association of which I was President. I must acknowledge the role of the late Fr. John Bonato who was such a father figure to all catholic students in USP. He made sure that there was always an opportunity for students to celebrate Mass on campus, the annual retreat to the Ashram (just out of Nadi) was always a highlight as we were students from around the region, yet we all shared our faith as Catholics. Then having the Pacific Regional Seminary located not far campus and building friendships with the Seminarians was truly special.
I am very proud to be the Vice Captain and member of one of the few USP Rugby teams to win both the Suva Club Rugby and the Inter-Tertiary Competitions in 1992. I do not know if there has ever been another USP team to have achieved this. We were a group of Fijians, Tongans, Samoans, and a Tokelaun under the leadership of our coach Dr. Pa’o Luteru who were able to blend different styles of rugby into one. In1992 we were the team to beat in Suva as we were not afraid to take on Army, Prisons, Raiwaqa, Nabua, etc. I must admit that rugby was a form of release for me as there were times that I was frustrated academically so taking the field, I would blow off steam. As a team we became brothers with such deep and mutual respect for one another. There was no Samoa, Fiji, etc, there was only the TEAM and I credit our Captain Etuate Manufetoa from Tonga for his leadership both on and off. Today we’re still connected on Facebook.
During my Post Grad year in ’94 I was on the Student Council and there were issues that we had with certain lecturers. They really did not take our concerns seriously and were literally mocking us. I didn’t like it and so pushed the Student Council to take action which led to a student strike. Later in the year the Vice Chancellor and Administrations made certain decisions that in our view were not right and again we took action.
Career Highlights since Graduation I started teaching as a 21 year old and by 1996, I was appointed the Principal of the Catholic Senior School. My appointment was the first lay-person (not a priest or religious) to take leadership in the Catholic Church. In 2003 I became the Director of Catholic Education and have been involved with Education review and development at all levels in Samoa which includes the Ministry of Education and the National University of Samoa. In August 2014 I was appointed Pro-Chancellor of the National University of Samoa by His Highness the Head of State under the recommendation of Cabinet. Even with these responsibilities I continue to teach in our catholic schools.
Who/what do you credit your success to? What inspires you? My parents, my wife and children and family are all part of my success. However there were so many people in Catholic Education who took me under their wing when I first started. I was always the youngest amongst so many experienced educators in Samoa from both the public and private sectors, and so I was never afraid to tap into their wealth of knowledge.
How do you think USP helped you in your career? In Samoa the USP Graduate network is very strong and diverse in all sectors of our community. The bond that we share knowing that we all came from USP has helped in providing assistance in many ways as an old saying goes, “it’s good to know people”.
Describe any challenges you face to reach where you are today and how you overcame those challenges? I am a teacher so obviously we have the universal complaint that we teachers are at the bottom of the salary scale. However as teachers we are a different breed of people in that we share a certain passion in helping young people become better in life. To me there is no greater feeling than to know that you have made an impact on the life of a person, because to teach is to touch lives forever. As a result today after 20 years in the field and 11 years as Director, there are so many students who have shared their gratitude and have achieved success through our efforts.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years (career and/or personal goals)? At this point, I have said that I will continue to work for Catholic Education as I have my own children in our schools. But once they have finished, then maybe it will be a good time to make a move I don’t know maybe Prime Minister or better yet go back to school, as never too old to learn.
What advice would you give to current and future students of USP? Over the years I shared the same advice to everyone, your chance for an education, a chance to grow and mature, but YOU TAKE RESPONSIBILITY!!!! The biggest challenge of university life????…..control your social life.
Please share 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.
1.    Always look for the positive in life. I always say to teachers the words of Rockefeller, “We have to dig and remove tones of dirt and rock to find an ounce of gold.” There is an ounce of gold in every student.
2.    Develop an attitude of gratitude: count your blessings not your troubles. You may not like your job, but be thankful that you have one. You may not like what your wife cooked, but at least you have something to eat and someone who loves you enough to make it.
3.    Commonsense. Some of the dumbest people alive have Masters and Ph.d’s. All the knowledge and education without commonsense is meaningless.

What has your involvement been with the University since you graduated? (if any) After graduation, I did tutor for USP Extension back in the 90’s. Our Samoa USP Graduates Association has been dormant for awhile but I was elected President and through my job I have working relationship with the USP Alafua Campus.

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