This coming academic year 2018-2019, DOST-Region 8 has a total of 388 scholars (229 RA 7687 Scholars and 159 Merit Scholars) joining the 8,994 Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) scholars all over the Philippines. DOST scholarship is among the government programs which create impact not just to the recipients but also to the scholars’ whole family.
While what often figures in the news is the number of scholars who made it, there are also those people whose hard work have made the program what it is today. These are the same people who’ll make the program even better in the future; the people who work behind the scenes, ensuring that the program is smoothly implemented, the risks managed, and the stakeholders’ needs well-tended. These are the ground workers, literally people on the ground who run and know the ins and outs of the scholarship program.
Daddy to the scholars of Visayas
“I serve as their parent away from home because their biological parents are mostly from far-flung areas,” said Ramil T. Uy, scholarship coordinator of DOST-VIII.
Uy said that he finds fulfillment in assisting the scholars who are mostly grateful for facilitating the release of their stipend which will enable them to eat rice for days or be able to buy pork, chicken, or good quality fish for the whole family. He makes himself available as much as he can for the scholars.
He recalls one beneficiary who nearly failed to meet the grade requirement and was at risk of terminating his scholarship. The student’s entire family trooped to his office, each with a letter asking for reconsideration, as the student’s scholarship is the only thing that could help lift them out of poverty.
“I was moved and was tearful of the family’s predicament and I committed to help them right there and then,” said Uy.
He also recalled the story of another scholar, who after graduating from high school believed that he will not be able to study in college, but took the qualifying exam anyway. Since it took some time for the results to come out, the student planned to leave his family first to find work in Manila. On the day that he was to leave home, he learned that he passed the DOST scholarship qualifying exams. The would-be stowaway is now a teacher.
Shaping tomorrow’s leaders
The program coordinators are instrumental in the evolution of the program to what it is today. Scholarship coordinators and personnel, like Uy, helped lobby for the increase of the scholars’ financial assistance and the inclusion of other courses in the priority courses of the program.
They spread the word about the scholarship opportunities to every student who are entitled to it, even in areas not normally visited by other government institutions—areas that require them to cross seas and rivers, carrying boxes of application forms, LCD projector, laptop, and bags containing clothes for their weeklong stay, hopping from one school to another.
“I feel proud of being a government servant because in my own little way, I’m making a difference in the lives of these budding economic shapers of the country. What we do is guide them in the right direction by showing support, love, and care. I want them to feel that they are not alone in their journey,” Uy explained of his role as scholarship coordinator.
Uy first got involved in the scholarship program in the late 1990s, when he was often requested to administer the qualifying examinations. In 2008, he was assigned to handle the program which he does up to this day. He himself has been a recipient of the DOST Human Resource Development Program. He holds a Masters in Technology Management from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, and he is currently on the second year of his doctoral program in Management Technology at the Eastern Visayas State University.
For Uy, being acknowledged by the scholars as among the people who helped them achieve what they have achieved is in itself a fulfillment.
“When they shout your name whenever you meet, acknowledge you in their social media or even in interviews they say how you’ve been a part of their formative years, how you have influenced them, is proof that you’ve somehow made a difference in their lives,” he said.(Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin, S&T Media Service)
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is the premier science and technology body in the country charged with the twin mandate of providing central direction, leadership, and coordination of all scientific and technological activities, and of formulating policies, programs and projects to support national development.