News on Sunday

Luciano Azor : Laureate Shatters Cultural Stereotypes

Luciano Azor

2017 laureate on the Arts side, Luciano Azor made history by becoming the first ever laureate of his college. Coming from a very modest family, Luciano’s success story inspired the youth and the Mauritian people across all boards. Flying soon to Malaysia to pursue his university studies in law, the promising young man shares with us in a candid interview about the changes that occurred in his life since the big announcement, his dreams and hopes for the future.

Three years back, News on Sunday was the first to share with Mauritian readers the inspiring and touching story of Luciano Azor, who, despite all odds, succeeded to get an aggregate of 6 at his School Certificate (SC) examinations. Luciano had promised us that if he is among the laureates for the Higher School Certificate (HSC), he will give us an exclusive interview and he did.

This achievement has definitely brought a huge change. People recognise and now know me for my true worth.”

In February, Luciano made history by becoming the first laureate of his college, Triolet SSS. The young man featured among the 45 laureates of the 2017 HSC cohort by grabbing a scholarship in the Arts side. Mauritians were touched by the story of this promising student belonging to a very modest family. Since then, Luciano is like a hero not only for his fellow friends at Triolet SSS and other non-star colleges, but also for students from all backgrounds including their families.

A complete change

How has his life changed since he has become laureate? “This achievement has definitely brought a huge change. People recognise and now know me for my true worth. Personally, it was a great surprise, as I never imagined that becoming laureate would create such a huge impact not only personally but also in the country.” Everywhere he goes, people stop to speak to him. “They hug me. Some even shed a tear or two. I believe that I have become like a symbol for many.”

There are many youths who are in the same situation but they do not have the courage to move forward. I trust that through my story, they have become hopeful.”

Being the son of a mason and a cleaner, Luciano trusts that his pathway has inspired the Mauritian youth. “There are many youths who are in the same situation but they do not have the courage to move forward. I trust that through my story, they have become hopeful.” Luciano states that becoming the first laureate of Triolet SSS has also brought immense changes in the students at his college. “We rarely won in competitions. But when I became laureate, this has motivated the students. They recently participated in two competitions and won both. I believe that in all schools tagged as non-star, there are talented and skilful students. They just need confidence and motivation.”

Luciano also reveals that many parents have also been moved by his story. “There are parents who took my phone number and later invited me for a motivational talk, especially for their children. I spoke to them like an elder brother and did my best by giving helpful advice. I felt useful and was glad to help them.” The 2017 laureate is even a star in Rodrigues. However, he underlines, people must not only recognise others when they get titles like laureates. “We  must recognise people through their potentials and capacities.”

On a personal level, Luciano says that he has developed his ‘human touch.’ “Before, I preferred to be in my own bubble. Becoming a laureate has made me more open as a person, participating in seminars, meeting and sharing my experience and ideas with people.”

I want to become the PM because I can’t adhere to the archaic political system that we have in Mauritius. I believe that many things should change, starting with the current education system.”

The importance of soft skills

Commenting on the Mauritian education system, the young laureate trusts that there is the need to review the whole system. “We are too focused on academics and qualifications. There is also too much spoon feeding. We should come up with an education system tailor-made for each student’s needs. Each student, regardless of his/her capabilities, whether it is in academics, in sports, in music, in arts, should have the opportunity to learn, grow and develop his/her own potential.”

Along this line, Luciano shares that he has in fact been coaching youth in fifteen colleges (boys and girls) around Mauritius, six in Rodrigues and one session with parents in Rodrigues about soft skills through a private company called Soft Skills Consultants (Mauritius) Ltd. “Shortly after the official announcement of the names of laureates, the manager of this private company contacted me. He came home and proposed that I work for them. I was nominated the first Soft Skills Ambassador. My role was to promote a soft skills culture among the youth in Mauritius.” In order to fulfill his mission and in order to be better 'equipped', the latter attended MQA approved training on soft skills.

He taught the youngsters to understand the importance of soft skills like self-discipline, respect for oneself and others, ability to work in groups (cohesion/team spirit), communication skills (being assertive and not submissive or aggressive), ability to come up with ideas on one's own (being proactive), among many others. “I helped the youth understand that all these skills influence their careers and that employers look for these qualities when hiring.” 

“It is a common fallacy to believe that most of the youth are good for nothing. There might be a generation gap, a clash of values, but I believe in the youth, in their dynamism, creativity and other skills. The presentations were highly interactive with ice breakers. I did not use a moral compass or authoritative tone. I was simply myself, friendly, spontaneous, also using some humour. They showed much interest all along and I was in fact amazed by their response. I felt that what I said touched each one of them.” Luciano confides that many students even came to him after the presentations to have a private chat. “Some took my phone number. We became good friends.”

Pursuing a career as lawyer

The forward looking young man shares that he aims to work in the law field following his tertiary studies in Law in Malaysia. Following his trip to America through the Pan-Africa Youth Leadership Program, Luciano noticed a change in himself. “I became conscious that I had to do what I love and not just follow what others are doing. This is what I’ve learned during my experience in the US. As I love languages, I decided to compete for laureate on the Arts side (languages) for my HSC,” he explains.

Why did he choose the law field? Luciano reveals that at the age of 10 or 11, he started to develop a strong liking for the lawyer profession. “I would watch courtroom dramas for hours. I was amused and entertained when the lawyers were at the bar pleading. I liked everything about lawyers, starting with the court robe, the sharp responses of the barristers, and other qualities. What I liked the most was when the innocent victims of injustice, the preys of the Machiavellian and unscrupulous villains were acquitted with the noble help of the barristers.”

We seized the opportunity to ask the future lawyer about his views on the Commission of Inquiry on Drug Trafficking report and on the relationship lawyers have with their clients who are linked to drug trafficking. “In the past, law was synonymous with prestige and nobility. You could have seen a lawyer’s parents almost overwhelmed with pride, probably standing upright on the street with a grin, saying to all passers-by: ‘Look, my son is a lawyer’.”

Luciano believes that today, the law profession has lost its value. “It is saddening to see what it has been reduced to, that is corruption, conspiracy and crime. More and more barristers at law are turning themselves into the sidekicks of pseudo Pablo Escobars, behaving in a way not always compliant with their principles and ethics, dishonouring their oaths, if not even violating laws. Many are not fighting for the truth; they are rather trying to create an illusory truth often believed by the common people, unfortunately! I'm not saying that all lawyers are criminals. There still exist noble ones who fight for truth, preferring equality and justice to materialism and popularity. I want to show that some people have got the necessary mental strength to say no to corruption and other related crimes.”

I became conscious that I had to do what I love and not just follow what others are doing. This is what I’ve learned during my experience in the US.”

If he was to become Prime Minister

Luciano does not hide that he also contemplates the possibility of becoming Prime Minister of Mauritius one day. What attracts him in this leadership role? “I want to become the PM because I can't adhere to the archaic political system that we have in Mauritius. I believe that many things should change, starting with the current education system. As the American Poet Prince Ea rightly said, we can't tolerate such an education system. We cannot put all students in the same classroom and assume they have the same abilities, the same dreams, the same vision....this is aberrant! We can't expect that an adolescent would enjoy sitting in a classroom for hours without proper sports facilities...we need to diversify the education system and make each and every student feel comfortable.”

He reveals that his other priorities would be the health and standard of living of the Mauritian population. “I would give people access to quality health services. I would give the vulnerable people additional allowance, lower the utility bills, offer free cooking gas. I would also offer greater support to labourers, laymen and farmers because they help sustain the economic pillars of the country. I would also make sure that all institutions are working appropriately and are dispensing quality services. Most importantly, I would put a stop to unnecessary state expenses,” he utters.

Advice to the youth

Luciano encourages the Mauritian youngsters to believe in themselves and be themselves. “They should never ever let anybody tell them they are good for nothing. They’ve got unique abilities and hidden talents. They only need to discover them, use them for their own benefits and put them at the service of others. I truly believe that everybody is born for a purpose. They should become who they are meant to be. They should give whatever it takes to get things done and make their dreams come true, irrespective of our background, ethnicity, gender, family income, the ranking of the school at national level. If a youngster has the impression that success is not coming to him on its own, he just needs to dare and go out to look for it!”

He plans to come back to his motherland following his studies abroad. “There's hot debates about brain-drain in Mauritius as to whether the brilliant Mauritian minds should return to their home country after their studies to contribute to the socioeconomic development of their country or stay in the host country and obtain PR. Personally, I definitely need to come back because I want to be a politician but after moving to the UK upon completion of my two years of studies in Malaysia. I’d be glad to stay there to acquire all the expertise and be better equipped before coming back.”