A natural curiosity in world affairs, which started when I was just a kid, pushed me to pursue an undergraduate degree in political science. I felt inclined towards the Ateneo program specifically because of its holistic approach in student formation. The emphasis on core subjects help shape the consciousness of students beyond their individual majors and towards a broader sense of responsibility as Filipinos, while major subjects play an equally important role in deepening the understanding and appreciation of a specific discipline. On multiple occasions, I’ve witnessed the interplay between the concepts discussed in my majors and the material from my philosophy, theology, history, economics and even psychology classes, which have refined my analytical and critical thinking skills extensively. In my 4 years as an Atenean, I’ve learned to thrive in an academic setting that values the liberal education. Service learning is an intrinsic part of the Ateneo formation and as I went through each program from freshman to senior year, it became clearer and clearer to me why Ateneo continues doing what it does— to form men and women who will serve and contribute to the larger goal of human development. I remain very grateful to Ateneo for providing its students with the chance to be more conscious of the larger, more dire reality we are all a part of, while also extending corresponding opportunities to help and interact with this reality. While the intense academic rigor of Ateneo has taught me to cherish each paper and presentation I’ve created, I feel particularly proud of the work my batch mates and I have done for the school’s partner communities in Bulacan and Bataan. These fulfilling and insightful experiences, despite being some of the most challenging requirements in my undergraduate years, allowed me to apply my skills for a greater purpose and be mentored by brilliant professors.
As hectic and loaded as the Ateneo program may seem, it actually leaves some room for flexibility to do a semester abroad or pursue a minor. In the second semester of my junior year, I attended Seoul National University as an exchange student, where I enlisted in masters-level public administration classes. The academic rigor of Ateneo helped me to actively engage with the course materials and exchange ideas with classmates from all over the world. At the same time, the unique exchange opportunity taught me valuable skills for independent living in a foreign country. When I returned to Manila, I had just enough space in my IPS to apply for a Minor in Korean Studies, which went a long way towards building the Korean language proficiency I had started in Seoul.
My Ateneo education has been the most challenging yet rewarding thing in my life thus far. The moments spent on campus with friends and professors have left a lasting impression on me and will certainly be cherished for life. For being the university that believed in me and taught me to believe in myself, Ateneo will always be home, no matter how far my journey as a life-long learner may take me.