A labour of love for community-minded graduate

4 May 2017


Zanian Malepati Steele graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences at Claudelands Arena on Wednesday 3 May.

It’s clear when you meet him that Zanian Malepati Steele is focused on helping to provide a better life for others. The first of his direct family to go to university, Zanian is graduating today from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Social Sciences with honours, a qualification he’s already putting to good use.

He majored in labour studies and has worked in human resources since finishing his studies. "As a human resources manager, I meet a lot of people with a lot less education than me who worked exceptionally hard to provide a better life for those that they cared about,” he says.

“It made me realise that the most inspirational people out there are not those at the top, but those who do the best with what they have.”

Zanian doesn’t remember a time when helping others wasn’t a priority. “My degree is a chance to do social good. I think we all have a duty to make the most out of our skill set,” he says.

When not at work, he volunteers as an employment relations advisor at the Young Workers Resource Centre in Hamilton and does a range of research work, most recently for the Tertiary Education Union and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

While studying, Zanian juggled work as a director at the Waikato Students’ Union with work as news editor at the University of Waikato student magazine, Nexus. Here he says he learnt about politics in a real-world environment and improved his writing.

Zanian says he has his degree to thank for the variety of jobs he is now able to pursue. “I’m lucky to have such a flexible degree. I have worked in employment relations, human resources, education, training and more.” He says on the surface there may appear to be few jobs directly in the labour field, so it is important to think about how you can apply what you learn to a wide range of roles.

“People need to help people more,” is the message Zanian has for anyone wanting to following in his footsteps. “If you want to help others, then do it!”

Nearly 1000 students will be graduating at University of Waikato ceremonies over the next two weeks with three ceremonies on Wednesday 3 May at Claudelands in Hamilton, one at the university’s Te Kohinga Mārama Marae this Friday 5 May, and another in Tauranga on Wednesday 10 May.

There are 308 Waikato Management School students graduating at the 10am Claudelands ceremony on 3 May. A total of 237 students from the faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, Computing and Mathematics, Law, and Māori and Indigenous Studies graduate at 2pm on 3 May and, at 6pm, 231 Education, Science and Engineering students will have their qualifications conferred. One hundred students will graduate at the marae, and 118 at Bay Park Arena in Tauranga following a student procession from Red Square down Devonport Street starting at 11am.