Student Spotlights

Chris Phillips

Chris Phillips (Class of 2016)

Fun Fact:
I was on the national team for inline hockey in New Zealand

Can you tell us how a native of New Zealand came to Niagara University?

Well, it’s a long story actually.  I’m from Wellington, New Zealand and I have been inline skating my whole life. I was on the national team in New Zealand and was advised by the former Canadian women’s hockey coach that I should switch to ice hockey.  I had the chance to attend a AAA hockey camp in New Jersey, where coaches saw how hard I was working, and I was asked if I wanted to play in America.  Of course I wanted to jump on this opportunity, but due to the differing school seasons in America and New Zealand, I had to wait a year.  So I graduated from high school in 2010 and went to college for business in New Zealand to keep up the studying mentality.  Next, I moved to Boston, MA and had a post graduate year at Worcester Academy to improve my hockey skills.  After this I started applying to schools in the New England area.  My coach recommended Niagara to me and I then contacted the school and the coaches.  Because I was living in Boston, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit Niagara’s campus before making the decision to come here.  Hockey brought me to Niagara, and it was a leap of faith on both the coaches and my side.

How are you enjoying the club hockey team at Niagara?

I love it! We are like a family, which is actually our motto.  It really is a full school year sport, beginning in August until right before spring break, but we work very hard and it pays off.  For the first time ever, we’re going to nationals which is amazing!  I play defense, #28, and I’m always striving to be better, staying after practice to work on skating, which is vastly different from inline skating!  Hockey really takes up the majority of my time (in a good way), however the team finds the time to get involved with the community.  In fact, we just held a charity game for Suneel Ram, a 15 year old who is a longtime fan and has been suffering from a form of Muscular Dystrophy called Duchenne’s Disease.  We sold 50/50 tickets and the proceeds went to his foundation.  We also invited him onto the ice to receive one of our jerseys.

Tell me what you like about Niagara?

I really enjoy that it’s a smaller school.  I was in a large college in New Zealand for that year in between high school and Boston, and it was too large for me.  Niagara also has a good reputation for its accounting program. With Niagara, you have smaller class sizes, which make the professors easier to relate to and get extra help from them if you need it. Courses like my Introduction to Business course provided a great opportunity to get to know other business students, such as the different class modules and the September retreat while learning the basics of the business world.

How did you decide to major in accounting?

In New Zealand, in 8th grade we have to pick our “track” which is basically what will we study and focus on until we graduate.  I chose business because I really enjoyed economics and accounting.  Economics always came easy to me, but I recently decided to major in Accounting.  I really enjoyed Prof. Gattuso’s financial accounting course last semester and found it very interesting.  Accounting is something that can be used anywhere and is always in demand.

Do you have any tips for new students?

Don’t be afraid to get involved.  This applies to activities on campus but to studying as well.  Don’t be worried about not looking “cool” if you study.  That’s what you’re here for.   Also, show up to class!  I have found that college is very much self-motivated learning. You get out what you put in!

What are your plans after you graduate?

After I graduate, I would love to travel around Europe and hopefully play on a team there. Then I plan on settling down in a career in the accounting field.