SESAM kumustahan through “SESAM Students Townhall Meeting” held

The UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) organized an online kumustahan entitled “SESAM Students Townhall Meeting” last 18 October 2021, via zoom. This activity was organized by the Instructions Division headed by Dr. Loucel E. Cui. 

The target of the activity is to reach out and connect to students especially at this time of remote learning. The activity provided an avenue to address questions and concerns related to courses, committee membership, comprehensive exam, thesis or dissertation, and mental health and gender sensitivity.

In his opening message, SESAM Dean, Dr. Rico C. Ancog mentioned that “Our students are the center of how we work at SESAM”. He also added that clear communication with the students is the key to make sure that they get the best of their graduate studies in SESAM. 

“This is the kind of communication that we must observe so that we will provide you with a holistic growth expected to be provided to a graduate student”, Dr. Ancog said. 

As part of the larger community of environmental science practitioners, Dr. Ancog emphasized the ‘tatak SESAM’, the brand of environmental science that the students really need to champion. And to be better prepared to seek for that ‘tatakSESAM’, Dr. Ancog highlighted that first and foremost, the students should have a profound understanding about environmental science from a local and global perspective and to value sustainability. Second aspect that the Dean highlighted is for the students to seek a deeper reason as to why they are at the School. 

“We are a community of reason. The environmental problems remain but we need to think of solutions to these perennial problems,” Dr. Ancog added. 

Lastly, he mentioned the School’s strategic intent as an organization centered on SESAM SAILS or the Sustainability and Accelerated Innovation in Learning and Solutions. Dr. Ancog encouraged everyone to join SESAM in championing sustainability and creating concrete solutions. 

To share experiences as a SESAM student, Dr. Aisa O. Manlosa, a SESAM alumna now based in Germany was invited. Dr. Manlosa works as Postdoctoral Researcher at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research on the Food 4 Future (F4F) project “Institutional evolutions for aquatic food productionalong ‘No Land’ and ‘No Trade’ triggered tipping points”. 

Dr. Manlosa narrated her experiences while staying in UPLB for her graduate studies. She is grateful to be reconnected with SESAM and said that this event is a great initiative to connect and check on everyone. According to her, “SESAM serves as the foundation to the career trajectory towards research”. And having SESAM with the rich academic community, it helps students be more rounded and holistic.  

In the end, Dr. Manlosa hopes that her testimony and story will inspire the students to be a champion in the field of environmental science. 

As a premise to the Q and A session per topic, Dr. Loucel E. Cui presented the review of guidelines set by the Graduate School and SESAM. She highlighted the processes in nominating the academic committee and the important deadlines to be noted by the students. 

The next part of the program is the breakout session where the students may join the sessions for the areas of their concerns and ask questions. It was divided into five breakout sessions containing (1) Courses which is facilitated by Dr. Cui; (2) Comprehensive exam, facilitated by Dr. Patrician Ann J. Sanchez and Ms. Catherine B. Gigantone; (3) Academic committee facilitated by Dr. Marisa J. Sobremisana; (4) Thesis/Dissertation facilitated by Dr. Jessica D. Villanueva-Peyraube; and (5) Mental Health and Gender Sensitivity facilitated by guests, Prof. Jea Buera of the UPLB Counseling and Testing Division (CTD) and Prof. Annie Liza Capili-Pintor of the UPLB Gender Center. 

The most participated breakout session is the comprehensive exam where concerns of the students mainly focus on the logistical arrangements and the rules during the exam. On the other hand, the concerns that the students raised in the breakout session under Thesis/Dissertation is the alternative method for data gathering while in this period of pandemic. Concerns raised in the Committee session are mainly on the processing of the nomination of the academic committee of the students. Dr. Sobremisana emphasized in this session to make sure that there is constant communication between the student and the adviser. The session on mental health and gender sensitivity shared the attendees practice of self-care. Prof. Pintor and Prof. Buera also presented the services of the UPLB Gender Center and the UPLB CTD. 

This event was also graced by the School’s Professor Emeritus, Dr. Enrique P. Pacardo. And according to him, this activity is a very good exercise to check on students and to inspire them to give their best for themselves and for the service to the people. He also stressed some important points and tips for the comprehensive exam takers for this semester.  A total of 44 SESAM students attended the meeting. (RMAreglado)

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