When I applied for the MA Program, my reasons were more pragmatic: earn a graduate degree from a reputable higher education institution to keep my teaching post at UP Visayas. UPV gave me a very tight schedule. I was expected to defend a thesis proposal within one academic year and have a ready final thesis in 18 months. ADMU was very accommodating and flexible at the onset and enabled me to meet my employers’ deadlines. The Department of Political Science also supported my application for a CHED Scholarship which provided full coverage—tuition fees, a generous stipend, and funds for my fieldwork.
My stint as a graduate student at ADMU trained me rigorously in the theoretical and methodological aspects of Political Science. The Program helped me a lot in terms of grounding the thematic focus of my research as a young academic, especially in the areas of public policy, state-civil society relations, traditional security, and non-traditional security concerns, such disaster response and humanitarian assistance.
In comparison to other Programs that I had the opportunity to evaluate and experience, the MA Program is at par with global standards on what a good graduate program for Political Science should be. It has a good balance in terms of covering the discipline’s subfields, and an interesting mix of area studies and methods courses. I also liked the fact that students had plenty of latitude in terms of choosing electives that suit their training and research needs. The diversity in the faculty’s areas of expertise is an important strength as well. I benefitted from many excellent graduate lecturers during my time.
The Program has also become truly international. During my time, we had an annual conference with Kyushu University which allowed us to take stock of our progress and exchange ideas with fellow graduate students. I also took some courses along with students doing a dual-degree program with the UN University for Peace. I had very good friends from this cohort, many of whom I worked with after my Ateneo stint.
The program was hosted in a very supportive learning environment. The Rizal Library, for instance, had a lot of good materials and had helped me get materials from other libraries on a number of occasions. The Program also benefits from the School of Social Sciences’ annual Best Graduate Student Research competition. I was nominated by the Department on one occasion and I think that helped a lot in terms of motivating me to write the thesis well.
In hindsight, my Ateneo education turned out as advertised and was more than just earning the graduate degree. One of the most important things that I will cherish about Ateneo is that I was trained in a nurturing learning environment that took care of many of a graduate student’s needs. Don’t get me wrong, my teachers really pushed me to work as hard as ever, but I also knew that they were there all along to help me achieve my academic and career goals.
One of the most important things that I have learned in my few years in higher education is that one’s success is largely shaped by the institutions and mentors that take you under their wing. I was lucky to have been taken under the wing of then-Department Chair, Dr. Alma Maria O. Salvador, who taught me well about the value of good scholarship and methodological rigor. My thesis project under her supervision gave me a very good understanding of the literature in my research area and gave me a lot of confidence to lead and be involved in a number of local and internationally-funded research projects after graduation.
My Ateneo training prepared me well for a career as a teacher and researcher. It opened a lot of doors for me in terms of research projects, networks, and opportunities establish a niche in the academia.
Years after I have finished graduate school at Ateneo, I am currently doing a PhD in Political Science as a New Zealand Aid Scholar at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand (under the supervision of another Ateneo alumnus, Dr. Alexander Tan). I can say with a lot of confidence that my MA Program at ADMU gave me the necessary training, experience, and work ethic to succeed as a PhD student.