He became famous in the State of California in the United States of America as the skirt wearing school principal who befriended and changed notorious gang members into well developed students and citizens.
Doctor Dhyan Lal, formerly of Samabula was that principal and it eventually drew the attention of the L.A Times after his work as the Carson High School's principal became famous for changing the lives of many troubled students.
"I walked in there wearing my sulu vakataga on the first day and inspected the school. That school had a lot of Samoans and Pacific islanders as students. I just wanted to let them know that I am one of them and I think it worked well because they were able to relate to me," Dr. Lal recalled.
Carson High was located right in the middle of Watts, a place notorious for gang violence in the US, and even though the school was a sporting powerhouse in California, academically they were lacking.
That was until Dr. Lal came in. So much so that many students under tutelage and care eventually found a new purpose in life. The students' attendance improved and so too the school's academic achievements.
The LA Times called his methods 'unconventional' and called him the 'skirt wearing' principal.
Working in schools notorious for gang violence and low academic achievements has always been Dr. Lal's passion.
He had previously worked as a school administrator in Compton, a troubled neighbourhood in California.
But his vocation as a teacher was borne right here in Fiji in 1960 when he was just a 10-year-old boy living in the Suva suburb of Samabula.
"Once I was sent home from the then Samabula Government School because my school fees were not paid. So I stayed home and round about the same time, the cruise liner Oriana was also in town. So along with some friends of mine, we decided to make some money in order to pay for our school fees and that's when I met Len," Dr. Lal said.
Leonard Decaux is the American who took Dr. Lal to the US, and they became best friends. Through Leonard, he was able to go back to school.
"He came back in 1961 and spent three weeks with my family. Somewhere during those three weeks, Len and my father decided that I should go to the US but the US Government did not let me in immediately," Dr. Lal said.
In 1962, he was finally given a foreign student visa and he was on his way to the US.
"I didn't want to leave Fiji. Fiji is Fiji but I had to because of my family. I went from coming first in class to a C and D Grade student because of the language problem but Len's family was really nice to me," he said.
At the time in the US, there was still segregation where the blacks and coloured people were not allowed to fraternise with the whites. And the American civil rights movement was at the height of its fight for equality.
"The city of Glendale in California had to pass a special resolution to allow me to live in the city. It had a policy not allowing any black person to live in the city. All blacks are required to leave the city area by 6pm every day.
"Most of the people and students were nice but I was a mystery to them. When they asked me and I told them about Fiji, they thought it was in Africa!"
Dr Lal shared that he encountered racial problems wherever he went, even in school and while he is out and about in the town. So much so that he became homesick and longed to return to Fiji.
"But it made me into a better person. Every adversity is an opportunity," he said.
"When they laughed at me and said I don't speak well... Well, now I make a living in speaking!" he said.
The young man carried on and when he was 16, he was already working and juggling his studies at the same time.
"There came a time when I finally realised that my family back home were relying on me, and that Len too was relying on me. So I just put all my efforts into my studies and worked because I didn't want to be a burden to Len and his family, and I also wanted to be able to send money back home," he shared.
Dr Lal eventually went to college where he attained a degree in psychology before he went for his second degree in special education and counselling. He eventually completed his Masters degree and Doctorate in Education and Leadership.
"I made it a goal to pursue success because failure was not an option. I also did not want to disappoint my American family. I was the darkest kid to graduate from college and high school," Dr. Lal said.
He then entered the public service, becoming a counsellor, teacher, principal, school superintendent and eventually the deputy secretary for Education in the Californian State Government.
He holds the distinguished title as the first ever Pacific Islander to be named as one of the US Who's Who in 1994.
And throughout his teaching career he reached out to where hope had disappeared and to the people he thinks, needed the most help.
"I made it my life to help kids like me. Kids who face a lot of difficulties and adversities in their young lives," Dr. Lal said.
On a recent trip back to Fiji, Dr. Lal had just sponsored the tuition and book fees for more than 21 students in Nadi for next year.
He also donated $3000 to the Red Cross and gave $7000 to the Prime Minister's Flood Appeal.