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Meet Susan Afoa: Former student, current tutor, and Pacifica leadership personal development scholarship recipient!

Posted on 25/02/2021 by

Meet Susan Afoa: Former student, current tutor, and Pacifica leadership personal development scholarship recipient!

We first introduced Susan Afoa in June last year when she was a new tutor for ITC Botany, but when we first met her, it was almost 10 years ago when she enrolled as a student!

Susan has come a long way in the past decade, and we couldn’t be more proud of her success story, or more excited for her to be part of our team so she can help new students follow in her footsteps.

We recently caught up with Susan to learn more about her experiences, her work as a tutor, and her exciting new scholarship!

Can you give us an overview of how you began as a student at ITC, then became a tutor?

I was inspired by a friend’s family member who worked at the airport for Air NZ as we would drop her off now and then to work, and from then I had decided that that is where I want to be.

Following that, I was looking through the paper and saw an ITC ad where I called in, then I was able to enroll and later graduate with Level 3 and 4 Certificates in Travel and Tourism. Coming to the end of my Level 4, I was privileged to be eligible for work experience and completed my time at JUCY Rentals Auckland Airport. On the last day of my work experience, I was grateful to be offered a full-time job and had been working there ever since for about 7 + years.

During my time at JUCY, I have always had a strong connection and relationship with ITC due to being one of their industry partners in regards to work experience for the students for both branches Auckland Airport and Auckland City. I also was a JUCY representative guest speaker so I would pop into the Campus now and then when ITC needed me to speak about what I do etc, and other certain events held where I was requested to attend or participate.

I think during my last few years at JUCY, progressing and growing through various roles – I discovered certain things about myself, my strengths and what I really enjoy which is helping people whether my own team members, customers or in this case, students, and that is where I then knew I needed a new challenge. So here I am today, inspiring, and motivating students to help them succeed with their goals and dreams within the tourism industry.

How does your experience as an ITC student help you to be such an amazing tutor now?

Well, if you put it like that (lol) I think being a former ITC student myself, it definitely helps as I know exactly what each student goes through and experiences specifically at ITC from the get go until the very end. Because I know the struggles and challenges they will face and go through since I also went through them too, being able to prepare them better or in advance so they can take them on knowing what to expect.

For example, I give pep talks or advice about what certain situations that may arise. So maybe if a student is late, maybe if they are sick a lot and do not come into class – but also do not call to advise the college – I ask them why, then also ask them if they think it would be okay if they were in the workplace?

So, I actually get them thinking first before I give them the explanation. My leadership and management background experience helps a lot because I tell them exactly what a manager will be thinking in these certain scenarios. When I ask them about their actions or decisions, I tell them actual facts and what workplace reality is like, but in a very positive way so that they understand the ‘why’ behind it and that is very, very important.

I do not feel that sugar coating the information of actual reality is beneficial whatsoever because what exactly are we teaching them then?

Another thing I think helps me be a ‘super amazing’ tutor now is also because I am a bit younger and more relatable as well, so connecting with the students is a bit easier since we may have same taste in music, hobbies, fashion, etc and just being that role model for them that ‘If I can do it, you can’.

Growing up as a Pacifica, I can understand the daily challenges and hardships that not only our Pacifica students go through but also other ethnicities that have similar values and cultures so being culturally aware is also especially important as a tutor. You are more understanding and able to identify and cater accordingly when it comes to your students and their specific needs as every student is different in their own unique and great ways.

You have recently been awarded a Pacifica leadership development scholarship, congratulations! Can you tell us more about what this entails?

Thank you. I am super grateful and thankful to be given this opportunity.

The scholarship is through Ako Aotearoa where they offer this amazing opportunity yearly and was made aware of this from Andy and Claire (the Botany Campus Manager and Chief Executive) as I had no idea about it, but I’m super grateful that I am now.

When applying for this scholarship, you can choose what you would like to study as long as it is within the budget criteria and it is some personal development for yourself as Pasifika individual. You had to explain certain points about why you want to study this and how it will help contribute in future including the community.

So, I am currently studying for my Diploma in Business as I feel this would give me more avenues in future when it comes to my personal and career growth not only within the industry but any industry really, as I would like to get more into the business and management side of things.

Everything is online and it is over a 12-month period where I do get study time during work hours also. Conditions are just to ensure that I give updates to Ako Aotearoa around my progress throughout my studies, be able to share my story with other future students or any other Ako Aotearoa events in future.

What is the biggest thing you want students to learn when studying with ITC?

The main thing I want students to learn is confidence and resilience. These two things are core skills when it comes to anything not only studying but, in the workplace, and just life in general. The majority of the students at ITC are straight out of high school so I feel like they are still finding themselves and we as tutors are there for them to help fill that gap and get them to gain those skills.

If you were not a tutor at ITC, what would your dream job be and why?

If I were not here at ITC, I would be running my own business and helping others somehow to improve themselves in one form or another. Not sure what but anything to do with personal development also. It is important for me to be able to play my part and give back to the community and my people if I had the ability to do so and know that I made a positive impact in someone’s life.

“Nothing is Impossible, the word itself says I’M POSSIBLE.”


Interested in heading to ITC and following in Susan’s footsteps, or perhaps carving your own path? Get in touch today to find out how you can enroll!

Campus Study – 0800 TOURISM (0800 868747) or

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