Monday, June 16

Starting Strong

Let me share this essay I've written for my graduate school application:
As fresh graduates, we actually have three options after college: magpayaman (economically), magpayaman ng kaalaman (increasing knowledge), and magpayaman ng kamalayan (enriching consciousness). Though it is tempting to find work and to get rich, I choose to deepen my knowledge and consciousness by pursuing graduate studies in Sociology. It is the promise of seeing the strange in the familiar that made me choose this program. On a sociological note, this decision may be a product of the social forces which influenced me to pursue graduate studies now. As sociology sees the society differently and helps explain a lot of things, I realize that the knowledge gained in this program will be of practical use – especially when translated to policy and concrete action. Through this program, I am also preparing myself for a career within the discipline – it may be teaching, or doing research.

In UST, Sociology majors have three core trainings: theory, research, and application. Students learn the basics of the discipline within the classroom, do research on issues, and apply the two in real life through different community exposure and immersion trips. It is through the lessons within and outside the University that I learned two things: makipagkapwa tao and maging tao. It is from my bachelors that I know how to deal with people equally, biases suspended, and how to be a better human being. Aside from being a full time student, I also worked as a research assistant for almost four years. Through this experience, I discovered that I could actually multi-task and juggle my responsibilities in school, work and home. However, it is quite a risk to do all things at once with a great chance of not being productive at all. I tend to cram when this happens. Primarily, I learned how to do research this stint, specifically qualitative data analysis through CAQDAS. I have some problems with doing quantitative research, however with the basics I know, I am excited to learn more about it. I look forward to pagpapayaman ng kaalaman in graduate school, as I know that there a lot of things in Sociology that I could add to the knowledge I gained in UST.

However, my professors also reminded me that learning for knowledge’s sake is futile. This opportunity to be educated at the Ateneo gives us a chance to explore our options, or rather avenues, on how to better contribute to the greater society. Personally, I see that there are two contributions: to the discipline and to the society. First, there is this opportunity to contribute to development of the identity of Sociology in the Philippines: as a discipline, a profession, and as a way of life. Pursuing higher education in this discipline means that we are one step closer to building a distinct Filipino Sociology, that people would identify with and something we could share to the international community. And second, it is the responsibility of the student of sociology to enrich the consciousness (magpayaman ng kamalayan) of the people around him/her in the hopes of having a better society.
Disclaimer: This was not the essay that I submitted with my application to the Ateneo. My mentor in UST told me that the text above sounds like a speech...and a bit preachy. So I wrote another piece, which I will publish in another entry.

Tomorrow, I will officially have my first day as a graduate student - inside my ultimate dream university since '08. How do I feel? Excited and challenged, both at the same time. Although I will be studying the same discipline as my bachelor's degree, it's all new to me. I guess I have to simply carpe diem and keep going - to ride that roller coaster that only goes up. I will start strong with this degree, so that I could prepare myself to finish strong. I am truly grateful for this opportunity (and/or privilege).

self portrait x carpe-the-effin-diem