USP Alumni Network

Name: Prof. Vijay Naidu
Country: Fiji
Programme: Bachelor of Arts (1974), Masters (1980)

Why did you choose your field of study? Wanted to be a Social Worker but ended up being an academic
Briefly reflect on your student life at USP? It was fairly full. I was actively involved in sports (soccer both as a player and manager), student politics (held position of USPSA VP), SSED Board of Studies and Senate, engaged with the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) Movement, and socially but never losing sight of my academic work.
Greatest achievement[s] as a student At USP achieving excellent grades, and graduating with a MA with distinction.  USP soccer team making it to the first (premier) division of the Suva Soccer club league competition. Having a large group of friends from throughout the region, and especially from the Solomon Islands, Samoa and Tonga. Completing my doctoral degree (1989) in the Sociology of Development at the University of Sussex, Falmer, UK. The D.Phil thesis was entitled State, Class and Politics in the South Pacific.
Career Highlights since Graduation Numerous!! Becoming an academic and rising from PT Tutor to the rank of Professor and serving the university in senior positions as Head of School, Dean, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Academic) and Acting Vice Chancellor.  Working as Professor and Director of Development Studies for (2003-2006) at the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences (SGEES), Faculty of Science, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Winning ‘The Victorias’ award on being recognized by the postgraduate student association of VUW as the ‘Best PG Supervisor in the Faculty of Science’ in 2006. Having peer esteem in areas of specialism such as migration, ethnic relations, social development, social protection and poverty reduction, the state and development, and Pacific Studies.
Who/what do you credit your success to? What inspires you? My mother who pushed me to be a conscientious student, two primary school teachers Mrs Fugiwai and Mr David Blackelock, in secondary school, Brother Theophane and Brother Lambert. My university mentors, the late Dr Ahmed Ali, Professor John Harre, Sione Tupouniua, the late Professor Ron Crocombe, the late Professor Tom Bottomore and Professor David Harrison.
USP colleagues such as Professor Rajesh Chandra,  and former colleagues such as Professor Wadan Narsey, Dr Howard van Tease, and Mr Ivan Williams as well as some excellent students. I am inspired by those scholars and personalities who through their scholarship and activism (including creative work such as songs) speak to power and work for social justice. I admire the life work of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
How do you think USP helped you in your career? It would have been highly unlikely that I would have attended university if USP had not been established two years before I completed high school! So I owe a lot to USP! The BA degree that I did at the university put me on a very firm foundation to build the career in academia.
Describe any challenges you face to reach where you are today and how you overcame those challenges? There have been many challenges both personal and professional, including the coups in Fiji. A number of academics and activists were rounded up, detained and tortured after the second coup of 1987, and I was one of them.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years (career and/or personal goals)? This year (2015) is my 42 second work anniversary, much of which has been with USP. I hope to continue as a public intellectual in the years to come. I will continue to work with human rights NGOs.
What advice would you give to current and future students of USP?  Work hard in your studies which means reading a lot and doing assigned work promptly but also use your learning to improve the lives of those who are not so privileged. Uphold values of honesty, respect, love and kindness, eschew being judgmental, narcisstic, and arrogant.
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. Work hard; 2. Think before speaking; and 3. Speak and write clearly.
Any other information you would like to share. USP has contributed immensely to the region and beyond in terms of human resource development, research and publications, consultancies and outreach activities. May it continue to do so in the future.

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