Meet one of VU’s most inspirational graduates

Christian Williams

VU Graduate and teacher at St Michael’s, Ashburton

Hi I'm Christian Williams. I'm a teacher at St Michael's Ashburton. I teach one-twos.

I love it. Best job in the world.

Guys, listen to me in three, Jeremy eyes on me in two, sitting beautifully in one and waterfall.


Hands up. Did anybody not get their lunch order?

We're all good? All right cool.

Its been a pretty random journey to get here. As a kid, my first dream was to be a professional athlete.

So I was very lucky. I got to travel overseas on a scholarship and play lacrosse and I was captain of the Under 19 Australian lacrosse team and it was amazing.

VU are elite athlete friendly so that's why I chose to come and study in Australia instead of staying in the US.

And it was the best choice I ever made because not long after I got to VU I was diagnosed with heart failure.

And I was told I didn't have long to live.

I pushed my heart so hard to the point where my heart would stop beating every time that I would go for a run.

And my heart would go crazy and it would beat over 200 beats per minute and I got to the point where I pushed myself too bad where my heart shut down completely.

And VU were fantastic through that whole process. Not only did they encourage me to continue my studies even when I was in hospital and I'm doing assignments in the hospital bed and nurses everywhere.

It was a hectic time and they stood by me 100%.

And not only that, they supported me to make a comeback in my career.

TV presenter #1

Christian Williams is just the proudest, most excited bloke that I have ever met in my life.

He's rebuilding his health and his life. As he said, he just has this condition where he just has heart attacks.

Um [laughs] he just said it so matter of factly.


So all I ever wanted to do was to be someone and I was someone as an athlete and I didn't want to let go of that.

So I decided I'd find a new sport, so I just went on Google.

Found a video of a hammer thrower who looked like me, had the same height and weight, so I decided to stalk the Olympic champion and teach myself Japanese and get on a plane.

I was looking at the Australian Championships when my heart shut down again and I didn't want to give up.

Kinfe Abera Kahssayis my favourite lecturer, he would say that "If you believe, you can achieve"

Dr Kinfe Abera Kahssayis

VU Lecturer & Researcher

He was kind, cooperative, polite, open, and hard-working.He use his time to fulfil his goals. So he took whatever he faced, he transformed it into positive things and he continued. And he did.


So I believed in myself and I kept going. And I made it onto the Winter development squad for luge.

And I've travelled overseas, it was amazing.

I was looking forward to going to the Olympics when my heart shut down again.

And I thought, "I'm not going to give up. I'll try archery because I can stand still, can't be that hard."

So I Google stalked an Olympic champion and convinced him to coach me and found my way to the AIS in Canberra and the VIS in Melbourne.

And had a real shot at being one of the best archers in the world.

TV presenter #2

Well one of the great things about this job is that you occasionally get to meet some very exceptional people, and Christian is certainly one of those. He's skipped years at school. He's written two books.

He's competed in elite-level sports when doctors said he couldn't, and he's not even a quarter of a century old yet.

But, luck just wasn't on my side and I had to retire when my heart shut down for the last time.

When I retired from sport, I couldn't think of anything better than being a teacher, and letting all those kids that were just like me that didn't believe in themselves know that anything's possible, and that you can live your dreams no matter what, and that's why I'm lucky that VU supported me and my dream of being a teacher.

Marisa Matthys

Principal at St Michael’s, Ashburton

We want our children to love learning. We want them to love learning from prep all the way through to year 6, and then take that on further, you know, as life-long learners.

And I believe that Christian is the type of teacher, he also believes in that.

Its a great place to be knowing that you can teach these kids how to change the world, and that’s what I love about my job. Everyday these kids are going to do amazing things.


I've got a kid that's going to cure cancer.

I've got a kid that's building a rocket to Pluto.

You got no idea the amazing stuff that happens in our schools.