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New staff at SIT

New tutors share more than an office

One is male; one is female. One is Swedish American; one is a French Kiwi. One is a teacher with a background in print journalism; one is a broadcaster who became managing editor of a community newspaper. In spite of their superficial differences, Angelina Hamilton and Brett Larson are sharing an office in Southern Institute of Technology’s Peter Arnett School of Journalism. Together they are replacing Darren Ludlow and joining programme manager Louise Pagan on the journalism faculty.

Ms. Hamilton has lived on both islands and worked for a variety of radio stations and newspapers. She became a university student at age 15and also attended CPIT’s broadcasting school before finding work at several radio stations. The highlight of her radio career occurred when she and Ludlow snuck into the studios of Foveaux Radio while Eric Gellately holed up with a gun in downtown Invercargill, bringing the town to a standstill. Her work on the story, which was broadcast throughout the country, earned her an award.

For four years before coming to SIT, Ms Hamilton edited The Southland Express, a weekly newspaper based in Invercargill. “I enjoyed the community newspaper environment because it allowed me to do so many different things, from liaising with the public to laying out stories to sub-editing to reporting,” she said.

Teaching has always been at the back of her mind, however, and she jumped at the chance to teach in Invercargill. “When I was young, I loved English, and I dreamed of being an English teacher,” she said. “This is probably as close as I’ll come to realizing that dream.” Ms Hamilton’s background in broadcasting also qualifies her to teach a course in scriptwriting in addition to her journalism duties, which include Treaty of Waitangi, Introduction to Broadcasting, and a Star Radio class for high school students. When away from school, she spends time at her rural home with her partner, her daughter, and a menagerie that includes horses, sheep, chickens, dogs and cats.

Mr Larson is a transplant from Minnesota in the US, where he worked as a journalism tutor at the tertiary level after years as a reporter, photographer and interim editor at a community newspaper. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Bethel College and a Master’s in English from North Dakota State University, where he started teaching in 1993.

His English background makes him well suited to teach grammar. “I know it’s sick, but I love grammar,” he said. “And much to my students’ horror, I’m sharing that love with them.” He also teaches subediting, interviewing and news writing. He came to New Zealand in August with his wife, who took a job as a midwife. They and their two children came on a whim, a decision he calls one of the best of his life. “We journalists are curious people, and the opportunity to live and work in another country was something I couldn’t pass up,” he said. “Finding a job in my field made it perfect.” He commutes to Invercargill four days a week from his home in Tuatapere, which he thinks is paradise. “We came here in part for the tramping, and we couldn’t have a better location.” So far he’s hiked the Milford, Rakiura, Kepler and Hump Ridge tracks, and he hopes to complete the Routeburn before the snow flies.

Although their backgrounds couldn’t be more different, Hamilton and Larson share a desire to make the journalism programme at SIT among the nation’s best. “They’re both new and enthusiastic,” said programme manager Louise Pagan. “And that bodes well for SIT, for our students, and for journalism in New Zealand.”