By: Renz Gabriel Garduque
The alarm activated at 6:00 A.M. Jamie turned it off, but then decided to snatch five more minutes of sleep. She slept really late to finish acads-related works and then council responsibilities, and she felt like her three hours of sleep was not enough to give her energy for two classes and an exam during that day.
When she woke up, it was already 8 in the morning. Jamie, remembering that her class starts at 9, hurriedly packed up her school stuff inside her bag and then literally dashed to school. Considering the intense traffic brought about by the construction of MRT-7 along Commonwealth, it was already fortunate that Jamie reached her class by 9:30.
Such is an ordinary day for fourth year student-leader and Alchemist Jamie Joice Noche. With acads, org, and the council on her plate, every day is a busy day.
Jamie, however, is not the only Alchemist with life as busy as that. Jamie is serving as one of the Chemical Engineering Representatives (ChEReps) to the Engineering Student Council (ESC) together with fellow Alchemists Jenina Margareth Castro (known to her friends as Margaux), also in fourth year, and Jared Martinez, a third year student. Moreover, Gertrude Anmari Farenas (known to her friends as Gertie), another Alchemist who is now in the BS HRIM program, is also serving as a Councilor in the University Student Council (USC).
The Catalyst decided to take a sneak-peek into the life of these student-leaders to discover what lies beyond their leadership positions.
Passion and Inspiration
Jamie, Margaux, Jared, and Gertie all agree that their experiences in ALCHEMES and interactions with people in the org contributed to the growth of their passion for service. They also consider exposure to work outside ALCHEMES as integral for setting their passion ablaze.
When asked about the people who motivated her to run for candidacy, Jamie said that she was strengthened by the words of support and encouragement from Jericho Torculas and Chechen Morales, both former officers of UP ALCHEMES, and from Marco Francisco, Jamie’s buddy when she was still applying for ALCHEMES. Similarly, Margaux considered running for ChERep because of Mark Castillano and Edsel Serrano, both Alchemists and former ChEReps as well. It was also Mark Castillano who inspired Jared to aim for the position. For Gertie, it was her friend Yael Toribio, the incumbent USC Vice-Chairperson, who encouraged her to confirm her candidacy.
More than just affirmations from the people around them, the student-leaders also draw from their various work experiences. Jamie, Jared, and Margaux, who were all involved in the Chemical Engineering Students Initiative (ChESI), noticed that working for the department is fun, and they discovered that they have the potential to extend the service that they deliver to the department and the students. On the other hand, Gertie’s involvement with the University Job Fair (UJF), an event handled by USC, further inspired her to run for office, seeking to be one of the future heads of UJF.
The four student-leaders were very grateful to the people who inspired them to go out of their comfort zones and endeavor to run for office. However, now that they are elected and are already working for their respective councils, they still need motivation to keep them on track. According to them, this is where their experiences as Alchemist plays a salient role.
Gertie regards her role as the batch head for Allotropes 13A (batch of ALCHEMES applicants) as a major help when it comes to her leadership skills. She shared how this position taught her to take care of her members and to stand by them at all costs. For Margaux, it was her appointment as Executive Officer for Membership last academic year that she considers to be integral.
Jamie, on the other hand, deems every involvement that she went through in ALCHEMES – her on-the-job training as an applicant, her directorship for Research Fair, and her headship for Engineering Week to name a few – as useful to her work now as a ChERep. She emphasized the how these involvements nurtured not only technical knowledge but also her interpersonal skills. Jared sums up how his ALCHEMES experiences are helping him right now: “My humble beginnings as a Publicity Head helped me in building my skills now. I started from nothing when I entered the university. ALCHEMES paved the way for where I am now in the council.”
Work Work Work Work Work….
Our student leaders unanimously acknowledge that the work in the ESC and USC are much harder than what can be seen on the surface. The intense demands of council work stretch and squeeze them in a lot of ways. They, however, put so much love and passion into their responsibilities so as to make them less like work and more like a hobby.
Jamie described her responsibilities in the council and shared things that she loves about council work. “May tatlong roles ang isang dept rep – committee work within ESC, event work, and department work. Favorite ko yung department work kasi napapasaya namin yung students sa ChE and we get a chance to inspire and serve everyone.”
Margaux, on the other hand, is proud of her assigned finance-related work in the council, because accorfing to her, “ikinakatuwa ko… yung chance na makawork yung ibang group of people from different age, organizations and departments”. However, she admitted that because she is just focused on doing finance work, “ang daming opportunities and growth sa other fields pa sana sa ESC na hindi ko mae-experience”.
The alignment of one’s personal skill is an important factor for growing in your work, and this is what Jared is happy about his work as a ChERep. “I like how my current job as a Public Relations member relates to my skill, and that’s what I love the most about my job in the council: I am immersed in the skill I’m trying to improve on. What I find distasteful in my job is the amount of continuous work I get every now and then. It gets tiring at times.”
Gertie mentions that although politics inside the USC can be a hindrance to her work sometimes, she still “love being part of the USC because I get to work for the UJF and have our ideas materialized”. However, she emphasizes that council work is not a bed of roses, as they have to attend regular general assemblies every week to discuss things pertinent to the university and also national issues. “We have to tackle different issues in the university, especially those which affect the UP community, and create action points to resolve them. In my opinion, the “student representation” part makes being a councilor being difficult,” Gertie notes.
Being Shaped to Shape Others
The greatest defining trait that sets apart an Alchemist from the rest is their set of core values. UP ALCHEMES is founded on service, humility, academics, professionalism, and excellence, collectively known as SHAPE. In a sense, SHAPE is the Alchemist’s DNA, and our student-leaders never fail to manifest this distinction even in the student councils.
Jamie believes that service is really a mandate once you are a part of the council, because you are elected by the students who believe in your capacity to serve. For Jared, council work requires a lot of humility. According to him, “so far in my term, I’ve met pretty petty, irrational, and aggressive people, and in those times, I held on to SHAPE, most especially humility.” Margaux again emphasized the importance of academics, not just inside the classroom but outside the university as well. For Gertie, professionalism “is the core value that I cling to the most, since I have to deal with people who have different views as mine.”
All four agree that excellence is a requirement – that you cannot serve the people if you don’t want to exert your best for it. No wonder why excellence is one of UP’s directives.
A Call to Action
Jared, Margaux, Gertie, and Jamie would like to impart messages of encouragement to those who have the calling for service, especially Alchemists.
From Jamie: “Go!!! Masaya talaga na nakikita mong masaya yung everyone. Mahirap lang minsan pero diba ganun din sa acads at sa love life, masaya madalas pero mahirap kung minsan.”
From Margaux: “Hello! Sobrang nakakaproud na maging Alchemists kapag nagtatrabaho ka na outside the organization. Kasi yung core values natin na SHAPE ang dinadala natin sa ating constituents and workmates. I know mahirap ang acad load natin, pero I believe na all of you are capable of serving the department/college/university basta maniniwala lang kayo na kaya niyo and nandoon ‘yung drive na magserve and magdala ng change for everyone. :)”
From Jared: “Hi, ALCHEMES! We are beacons of service, and I’m glad to be a fruit of that. Let’s continue baking ourselves up for the future. The college and your community is a great start if you want to start small. Join the activities of your home departments, support your college events, and join outreach or enrichment programs for local communities. Let’s not be caged by the four walls of the classroom. More than students, we are people, and we can do great things if we start looking outside the box.”
From Gertie: “Guys huwag PLS LANG hahahaha joke. Being a student leader is a thankless job. It may look prestigious at the beginning, but once the work starts, the “glory” begins to fade. There will be times where you will be tempted to give up and stop working, and in every time this happens, remember how much you wanted it before you got it and for whom these things you’re doing are for. It will always be worth it, even if it does not look like it sometimes.”
Bearing the Brand
Jared, Jamie, Gertie, and Margaux all bear the ALCHEMES brand of public service. Countless Alchemists have already proven that the org’s leadership style – enriched by its core values – truly goes a long way. And for sure, countless more will prove that again and again.