Friday, June 14, 2024

The Life of Fresh Graduates

By Paul Ray Donaire | The Sillimanian Magazine

Careers aren’t forged at a young age but one’s dreams are. 

Silliman University (SU) is an institution that offers various disciplines to its students. Over the years, it has produced numerous successful graduates.

Ensuring to foster inclusivity on campus, it has enabled its students to share a sense of belonging regardless of the different academic programs. As such, many alumni have overcome challenges and achieved great things in their lives. 

These are some of the graduates from the school year 2022-2023 exemplifying true Sillimanians who embody the spirit beyond the university’s portals.

Myron Gavriel Baring

With the rhythmic push and pull of the ocean waves, he finds himself drawn deeper into their melody. As he continues to listen, the waves feel as though they are whispering secrets of the sea. Enchanted and enthralled, Mayron Gavriel Baring discovers not only a fascination but a profound passion stirring within him. 

A true red graduate from the Institute of Environmental Sciences, Baring’s interest in marine biology was kindled during his childhood exploration of popular science documentaries Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. 

These inspirations, along with science experts Steve Irwin, Bill Nye, Michio Kaku, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, have hooked him to delve into the conservation of coastal ecosystems. 

“I decided to pursue a career in biology since I have always had a more innate curiosity about studying living things,” he says.

Baring recalls his first semester of university life “humbling” as it made him realize how much more there is to learn about biology beyond what he learned in high school. 

“Science is always growing and there is always something more to learn every day,” he says. 

Guiding him toward his aspirations was also a gentle nudge from Dr. Pablina Cadiz, who served as both his mentor and a role model. Her guidance fueled his determination to continue traversing through the marine world. 

“I have always been interested in working with mangroves which just so happens to be her expertise. Working under her guidance during my internship and thesis really developed my love for mangrove forests even more,” he explains.

Starting on his career journey, Baring worked as a research assistant under faculty member Dr. Aileen Maypa at the said institute, where he examined the ecological assessment of seagrass beds. 

“It played a part in my growth due to the realization that the work that we were doing would contribute to the conservation of the Dumaguete Coast,” Baring notes, adding that the fieldwork imparted a huge lesson of prudence and adaptability in uncertain times he may come across. 

While it may seem that his work centers on marine life, Baring’s passion extends to engaging with the coastal communities. “Listening to their stories and working alongside them will always be the most meaningful and rewarding aspects of this profession,” he shares.

“Being equipped with the capacity to help vulnerable communities—whether it be from the effects of climate change or destructive coastal development—stay resilient or become more resilient gives me a great sense of purpose,” he adds. 

To entwine and enable more science enthusiasts, whether it be students or professionals, Baring co-founded Mangrove Matters PH, a non-profit organization advocating for marine conservation.

Baring shares that in 2023, their organization planted a total of 1,450 mangrove seedlings. Then, they were able to raise ₱27,396 for the Siit Mangrove Ecopark in Siaton, and a thesis funding of ₱6,190 for Cebu Normal University students who are researching mangroves. He also mentions that Mangrove Matters PH has been featured in 13 news articles and radio interviews. 

Amid all these endeavors, Baring holds in appreciation to SU that acted as dynamic current of his educational journey. These aspects of his university life enriched his intellectual growth, shaping him to be an effective citizen in his fieldwork. 

“Never lose your sensitivity and connection to nature and to everyday people (i.e. people outside of science). Make it a conscious effort to step out of the “ivory tower” of academia and science to share what you have learned with humility and grace,” he advises.    

Danielle Gaston

A young girl stands before the vast audience and, in her hand, holds a microphone that echoes her wits and intellect. As she ensures the program flows smoothly, she engages in a dialogue as though she’s in touch with every member of the crowd. Setting the tone in the atmosphere, smiles begin to spread across the faces of those around Danielle Gaston. 

Hosting events since her elementary school days, Gaston’s career blossomed during her sophomore year of high school at SU, propelled by her teacher’s discovery of her skills.

“A host himself back then, my English teacher saw my potential and began scoring me gigs outside Silliman. Fifteen at the time, I longed for a semblance of identity, and being onstage with a microphone was where I felt most myself,” she says. 

Her approach to hosting, akin to performing a skit, is inspired by the comedic timing of American actress Emma Stone. 

“Be willing to embarrass yourself. Take calculated risks. Dedicate time and effort into the craft so you shine bright when you’re given the opportunity to prove yourself. Create a persona you can embody when you feel frightened. And remember to always treat every opportunity like it’s your last,” she advises. 

As a mass communication graduate, the program strengthened her ability to tell stories, whether in the form of news, features, or editorials. Yet, this learning ends not only on paper but also in her hosting stints. Gaston notes that journalism challenges her to write distinct hosting materials that are in connection with the event’s theme. 

After spending seven years ushering at the Claire Isabel McGill Luce Auditorium, Gaston mentions that being a part of SU taught her the importance of putting on a good show and recognizing the unsung heroes of entertainment.

“Seeing all of these parts set in motion reminds me that it’s never just my stage, it’s ours,” she says.

Residing in her hometown, Dumaguete City, she continues to host and create content for brands after finally leaping into the workforce. One particular milestone she has made was hosting the folk-pop band Ben&Ben concert at the said city’s Pantawan Rizal Boulevard, November 18, 2023. 

In retrospect, Gaston shares that reputation mattered to her in the early years of her career. “I did more than what was asked of me just to put my name out there, even when the only forms of compensation were ‘thank you’ or exposure,” she recalls. 

“I’d dedicate my time to [writing] scripts, [spending] my own money on attire, and [using] my own gas to drive to venues. Back then, the foundation of my career was passion, and the reason why I’m still here is because it still is,” she adds. 

Through these experiences, Gaston intends to elevate her visibility by investing in herself. “I do hope to move to a bigger city sometime soon, so the decision to exhaust opportunities in Dumaguete before seeking jobs outside my hometown is also financially driven,” she says. 

Moving forward, Gaston envisions grander scales and larger audiences. She hopes to continue holding a microphone, a symbol of her passion. “If not, I hope I’m on television. I can’t think of anything cooler than my mom turning on the TV and having her daughter report the news, or be the news,” she adds. 

Kylle Christiann Saga

There, unfazed by the sweltering heat, he continues to distribute a pack of relief goods to a family in a remote area. All while sweat trickles down his forehead, his determination remains unwavering. This genuine volunteerism, free from any expectation of reciprocity, is a rare gem, yet is an innate expression of character for Kylle Christiann Saga. 

With a degree in psychology, his college program allowed him to explore various aspects of life that resonated with his interests and passion. “In my case, I have always banked on my love for social and community psychology, which has been my foundation upon engaging in my internship responsibilities in the community,” he says. 

Saga has dedicated himself to participating in community engagements, which led him to take up meaningful work in the Local Government Unit for Children in Conflict with the Law and a non-governmental organization that supports women farmers and fisherfolks.

Although his field delves into the complexity of human behavior and cognitive processes, he notes that, “I have always been a firm believer of our heart and emotions as human beings and how our wisdom and intellect can make the world a better place to live in.” 

Two months after graduating, he grabbed the opportunity to work as a program specialist for Early Childhood Care and Development at the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI). As the foundation under the Aboitiz family, it provides aid to the Cebuano community in economic, social, and physical aspects.  

“I am truly glad to have started my adulting journey to this noble mission of the Family as someone who currently handles the Grants Management of RAFI’s Children’s Program – Dolores Aboitiz Children’s Fund,” he adds. 

With huge financial responsibilities, Saga ensures impactful humanitarian endeavors by working together with partners through the foundation’s resources. 

“While I may not be the one fully implementing those projects, the success of your grantees is also your success and to see them succeed in their plans is already a rewarding aspect in my career,” he explains. 

He is known as someone who avoids budget planning by his friends. Yet in a surprising turn of events, Saga’s first step into employment proves to be a “daunting” experience, as he holds a crucial role in managing substantial monetary value. 

The weight of accountability, as intimidating as it sounds, instills discipline in precaution-taking. Though Saga admits that he’s still adjusting to this level of responsibility, he recognizes this action as a chance for growth by embracing each opportunity with gratitude. “We fail fast so we can learn faster,” he asserts.

Carrying the passion to help others through and through, one of Saga’s achievements at the start of his career is working with the children’s program grantee, Bata ng Calabnugan, a home for disadvantaged children situated in Dumaguete City.

“It feels great to know that your very first assignment has enabled the young children of Dumaguete (which is close to my heart) to continue their education through scholarships and educational assistance,” he says. 

Saga embodies the aspect of community that SU instilled in him. With the guidance of Novee Maestrecampo Jr., director of the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning (OCESL), who helped him seize every doorway towards community development, Saga appreciates that OCESL took part in shaping his perspective. 

“Even days before I started working, Sir Novee took the effort to send me all his community development tools and resources just to equip me [for] my new journey and I would say that I am more prepared in my career because of his guidance,” he shares. 

As he puts it, “Malayo na pero Malayo pa,” a phrase used to recognize one’s accomplishments in constant progress. Saga sees all his endeavors as stepping stones towards familiarity in the “adulting stage of life.” He remains determined in his pursuit of advancements in social development, driven by kindness that is a testament to his selflessness and compassion.

Mayumi Mari Maghuyop 

She appears on stage, filling the theater with her voice. Enveloping her audiences, she draws them fully into the narrative. With her portrayal of the story’s protagonist, Mayumi Mari Maghuyop becomes the very embodiment of the moment. 

From a family of art enthusiasts, Maghuyop was immersed in arts and culture at a young age. Exposed to a kaleidoscopic worldview, she developed a profound interest in artistry.

“I was lucky enough that my mother, who is an educator, found so many ways to incorporate art—be it visual or performing—into our school activities. We would have an art club where we got to learn from local crafts people and then made our own artworks to exhibit and we also had school plays practically every year where we could experience the different aspects of theater,” she says.

Maghuyop finished her speech and theater program with flying colors. Not only did she excel academically, but she also earned the title of 75th Miss Silliman in the pageant’s celebration of its diamond year. Maghuyop was once a student who combined the brain, the beauty, and the heart to serve the community as an advocate for artistry.

“Our education prepared us for the real world by bringing us there and guiding us as we got to know it,” she notes.

Maghuyop then proceeded to teach in her department at the College of Performing and Visual Arts. “I taught acting and public speaking at first in the extension program of the college and then I eventually got absorbed to teach major subjects—which I continue to do now,” she shares. 

Motivated by the desire for growth and progress, Maghuyop has also been involved in the 2023 Tampok Colloquium, a conference dedicated to tackling preservation and development of the Philippine theater. 

“Both teaching and the various projects I have been a part of have really influenced my professional growth in profound ways: I never would have known I was capable of doing either if I hadn’t taken the challenge,” she says. 

For Maghuyop, the breadth of her experiences lies in the diverse array of people she comes across. “They’ve been the most rewarding because the art industry, especially in the Philippines, is not a simple industry to be in,” she claims. 

“Fighting for culture and the arts has never been and may never be an easy task and it can be frustrating to say the least; but then you meet the people that are doing it alongside you, the people who have been doing it for so long and you can’t help but be inspired by the work they’ve done and continue to do,” she adds.

Although challenges are not uncommon in her field, Maghuyop sees them as opportunities to reflect and improve. Juggling both teaching and managing projects, she ensures to maintain a balanced approach to make sure her quality remains uncompromised. 

Along with artistically inclined people, Maghuyop finds solace in pursuing her passion. “Art cannot exist without the community therefore being in the field of arts is to be a part of the community—get to know it and it will change your life forever,” she says. 

She views an uncertain future however, it is her aspirations that drive her to reach greater heights. As a free-spirited person, Maghuyop looks forward to seizing every doorway that opens in her path.

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