In March 2020, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Public Administration (PUBA) program welcomed Suzanne “Susie” Chun Oakland as a special guest speaker for two PUBA courses—PUBA 605 Effective Communication in Public Administration on March 9 and PUBA 631 Nonprofit Management Practices and Tools on March 23.
Chun Oakland is a UH Mānoa alumna with a degree in communications and psychology and has several years of experience in the public service arena as well as the Hawai‘i State Legislature. She is now a program coordinator for Catholic Charities and also serves on several non-profit boards. She spoke to PUBA students about her career path, knowledge she’s gained through her various positions and advice for those interested in following a similar trajectory.
“Every place that I’ve worked, I’ve tried to learn something from it,” said Chun Oakland, urging students to make the most of every job. “I think you can learn a lot from every job experience. Having willingness to learn and to do everything that is asked of you is an important part of understanding how an organization operates.”
Chun Oakland’s visits were coordinated as part of the UH Office of Alumni Relations’ Professor for a Day program, where alumni are given the opportunity to come back to campus and share their career and professional expertise with students.
When asked about the most effective avenues for bringing about positive change, Chun Oakland reminded students that anyone—no matter what type of work you do—can bring about positive change.
“You can effect change in every position. I was a community volunteer before I worked for the legislature. It depends on the person, and I think in whatever role you are in you have to take a look at talent. It also depends on the attitude of the individual. But it doesn’t matter where you are. You could be a mother or father and make a change.”
To learn more about the Professor for a Day program, visit uhalumni.org/get-involved/professor-for-a-day.