Anybody from any walk of life can be—and benefit from being—a science scholar. This is the main message of a new coffee table book launched by the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) in partnership with the Philippine Social Science Council (PSSC) as part of this year’s National Science and Technology Week (NSTW).
Entitled, Ripples: Transformations Beyond Science, the volume highlights the value of science scholarships, and even scientific thinking, beyond the confines of the laboratory and the academe. It contains a wealth of personal testimonials from people from a multitude of backgrounds— not just teachers and scientists, but also soldiers, lawyers, and even a beauty queen.
“DOST-SEI programs contributed significantly to where the beneficiaries are now, regardless of whether or not they settled within or drifted outside of science. A common thread that weaves and binds their outlook in life is the desire to pay forward and serve the communities where they belong,” said PSSC Executive Director Dr. Lourdes Portus on her team’s findings. “You could say that the generous assistance given by DOST-SEI ‘rippled’ into a desire to communicate the importance of science in solving the country’s problems.”
Not many people know that prior to winning the prestigious Miss Earth title in 2017, Karen Ibasco was a scholar under the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP), which provides financial assistance to students applying for MS and PhD programs in the Philippines. With DOST-SEI’s help, Karen entered and finished her degree in MS Medical Physics in UST.
“Every time someone would ask, and they would be surprised, ‘Ah, I didn’t know you were a DOST scholar!’ And I’d say that I also couldn’t believe it before, to be honest, that I was chosen to be one!” Ibasco told the researchers.
There is also the story of lawyer and former army captain Carol Lim-Gamban, who was a science high school scholar by virtue of Republic Act No. 8496 or the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) System Act of 1997, as well as an ASTHRDP scholar. These scholarships led her to pursue a colorful career in physics and teaching at the prestigious Philippine Military Academy, and eventually into law.
“Maraming, maraming salamat sa DOST… they were the ones instrumental para ma-spark ‘yung interest…magkaroon ng steppingstone, magkaroon ng pag-asa. They give hope,” Lim-Gamban said.
The launch was graced by DOST Undersecretary Dr. Rowena Guevarra, herself a former scholar—a fondly remembered experience that also enabled her family to send all of her other siblings to school. “Being a beneficiary of the DOST SEI scholarships, in and of itself, has determined the trajectory of my life so far,” she said. “Anybody who has a DOST-SEI scholar in the family will surely improve their economic status.”
Aside from firsthand testimonials, Ripples also takes a long hard look at how the DOST-SEI’s various scholarship programs have impacted STEM education in the country—and how these can be further improved. “While much has already been said about the transformative power of a good STEM education, we don’t always get to see the personal stories of our scholars themselves,” said DOST-SEI Director Josette T. Biyo. “We hope that these testimonials inspire more Filipinos to pursue meaningful careers in STEM, regardless of their circumstances and background.”