Hazel Waye-Hive, 29, mother to 10-year-old Rohan, recently graduated from the University of Botswana with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts Humanities (Environmental science and English), graduated with first-class honours, top of her class and won the Best Academic English Prize. Hazel grew up at Anse Royale, and at the age of 12, she moved to Au cap, where she is still residing. She attended creche, primary, secondary school, and the School for Advanced Level Studies at Anse royale, Mahe. Hazel is a testament that you can achieve great things with hard work, determination, and the right support. She shares with Cosmocreole her childhood memories, trials and tribulations, leaving her son behind to pursue her studies and surviving the COVID-19 lockdown as a student.
You were raised and educated at Anse Royale; the place must hold special memories for you?
I had a happy and great childhood at Anse Royale. I grew up with my brother, who is four years younger than me. Back then, my mother had only the two of us. We had a lot of great memories together growing up, which created a strong bond between us. One of my best memory as a child was when we went on a family trip to Switzerland, and we saw snow for the first time—as a child, the feeling was amazing!
Have you always wanted to be a teacher?
I joined the teaching profession at 19; after completing my A level, I joined the Anse Royale secondary school as a supply teacher, where I taught English and Geography. However, at the age of 22, I decided to change my career and joined the insurance industry. I worked at H.Savy insurance for two years. As they say, teaching is a vocation, and I agree —deep down, I always loved teaching, so I decided to go back to the teaching profession. I went to teach at La Digue Secondary School in 2016 and pursued my studies in September 2017 at the University of Botswana.
As a teacher, you touch the life of a child in different ways. I wanted to make a difference and help them make the right decisions in life, motivating and encouraging them. In this profession, you are not just a teacher; you are a mother, a role model and a counsellor as well. I was also inspired by the young teachers when I was in Secondary school. I remember I had a geography teacher in Secondary four, and I looked up to her. I wanted to become like her. She was intelligent, disciplined and motivated us to do better.
Your choice of subjects is fascinating; why environmental science and English?
I chose environmental science because of my love for the environment. I want to teach the younger generation about protecting our environment and how important it is for everyone to work together to save our planet. I also chose English because it was my favourite subject at school. In my third year at University, I could switch to a single major or continue with a double major, and I chose both. So, I challenged myself by doing a double major, and I am proud that I passed with flying colours.
Leaving family behind is always challenging; what was your biggest sacrifice made to pursue your studies?
My hardest and biggest sacrifice was leaving my 6-year-old child behind. It was not easy, but it was a sacrifice I had to make. I had the full support of my family and loved ones, and they made sure he was well taken care of during my absence.
It will be an understatement to say 2020/2021 has been challenging—the pandemic dealt a major blow to life as we knew it; what has been your greatest challenge whilst studying during a pandemic?
My greatest challenge whilst studying during a pandemic was returning home during my final year, which was the most critical year. I had to do online classes, and I encountered internet connection problems. Sometimes I would miss some classes, luckily my lecturers understood. I did a lot of independent reading as well. I also had to undergo surgery one week before my final exams. Despite the pain and going through the recovery process, I insisted on writing my final exams. I had the option to defer, but I chose to finish what I had started despite the pain and the challenges that came my way.
Can you sum your journey to achieving your degree and who has been your greatest supporter through it?
I have had an incredible journey, and it is one that I would cherish for the rest of my life. One of my greatest memories is when we had lab time. It took us usually three hours in the lab to do group work. Despite constantly working under pressure and being exhausted, I looked forward to attending lab sessions because, during these moments, I bonded with my classmates. In addition, being the only Seychellois in class, it was great to learn about their lifestyle and cultures.
My greatest supporters have been my family, loved ones and my friends. I thank every one of them for the support and for always believing in me.
Graduated with first-class Honours, top of your class and best Academic English Prize- How do you feel?
I am proud of myself for such achievements. The sacrifices have paid off, and my heart is full of joy. There is nothing impossible in life if you set your mind to it.
Cosmocreole is all about inspiring women—we connect, inspire, and share. Who has been your greatest inspiration in life?
One woman who inspired me is my mother, Josepha Albert. She is a strong, courageous, independent, determined, focused, loving and beautiful woman. I look at her, and I see myself when I am her age. She faced many obstacles and hardships in her life, but she always held her head up high. She has made me become the woman I am today. I thank God every day for giving me such an amazing mother.
As Seychellois women, how do you think we can inspire each other?
We must support each other and be proud of one’s achievements. By doing so, it will encourage and motivate other women to follow their dreams.
Let’s talk about the future—your future. What are your ambitions, and where do you want to be in your professional and personal life?
I have always dreamed of becoming a lecturer one day, and I will accomplish my goal. I hope to do my masters in the future. There is nothing impossible with God by my side. Personally, I want to ensure that my son grows up to become a respectable and educated young man. I want to grow my family in the future and get married someday. But God’s timing is always the best.
If you were to choose one particular moment of your life, which would it be and why?
Holding my son for the first time was the happiest moment of my life. It has changed my whole perspective of life. He is my motivation and the reason why I want to better myself.
What message would you pass on to young people with a dream and find themselves faced with huge challenges?
Never give up, stay focused, be determined and do not forget to pray.
Finally, Education is… The key to success.