Monday, April 16, 2012

Team Work

Yesterday’s 84th Commencement Exercises of  Central Philippine University marked the 10th year of the revival of  our Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program. It was in 2002 when we reactivated the program,  a couple of years after I finished my Master of Social Work from  the University of  the Philippines- Diliman. An adventurous attempt, considering the odds, with a  simple goal i.e. to have even just  one graduate. By this, we can  convince the  apathetic targets including those who shifted to other courses  that we mean business this time.

The goal was achieved   during  the University’s historic Centennial Year in 2005. Since then, we have produced 10 graduates including  this year’s biggest figure, so far. There are four of them who made it. But this is not the sole reason  that  makes the event very significant.  It is also because of the circumstances surrounding their graduation.

The author, flanked by Kareen Jay (L) and Carol Kay (R).
At extreme right is Carol's husband, Eleazar Blando
Of the four,  two are faculty of our Department of Social Work, CPU. They have been close to me being  my students during their undergraduate years;  colleagues when they joined the teaching force of the Department; partners in volunteerism and development endeavors.  As such, I have known their commitment and dedication in work.  In fact, their masteral studies was part of the Vision-Mission-Goal we formulated  during my stint as Department Head.  Unfortunately, when I left my position to serve as  director of the University Outreach Center, there was a lag  in their  studies. For whatever reasons,  their enthusiasm were seemingly quenched.

It was only when, by another circumstance,  I was appointed as officer-in-charge of the Department for  a year effective August last year that their studies were given a boost. Renewing  our relationship, we  committed to resume the interrupted partnership and  development agenda for the Department including their MSSW degree. Thereafter, I served as their thesis adviser  struggling with them  through thick and thin until they were conferred  with their hard earned degree yesterday.

The other two are personnel  of the Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus.  The bonding we have may not be comparable to the previous ones. Yet, it is also interesting and equally significant.  Adverse circumstances did not hinder their desire to finish studies according to their schedule. Even my serious sickness and subsequent health limitation could not withstand their earnestness  to complete the course.

The photographer may not know it,
but her shots represent the process
we have experienced as a team.
From gloom to bright, happy graduates
 deserve their smiles.
 Photo below (L-R) Kareen Jay Diesto,
Sr. Aubrey Casimiro,
Araceli Tondo, the author,
and Carol Kay Cortuna- Blando  
I can  still recall instances when we held  reportorial sessions at home because of my limited mobility. We used  the University  gazebo because  I could not make it to  the 3rd floor of the building  where the office and classrooms of  Graduate School are located. There was even a time we had classes under the acacia tree  near the Department of Social Work office which used to be  an alternate venue for classes. However,  with the change of management,  I  no longer had  access to the department during weekends. Instead, I was at the mercy  of part time faculty with review classes at the adjacent room who were fortunate than I was at that time to have a duplicate  key.

But  tougher  times  were just waiting ahead. These happened  during their thesis writing stage. I was designated as thesis adviser for  them both. Aware of my health limitation, we tried to organize  their respective  schedule, with emphasis on  team work,  to avoid overlapping that would put unnecessary pressures on us both.  Despite this, however, unavoidable  circumstances  forced  us to  face the challenge we wanted to escape.

The  devastating flash floods in Cagayan de Oro, triggered  by Tropical Storm Sendong  scrapped   the scheduled December leave of Sr. Aubrey Casimiro, DC for data gathering and processing. The pressing need compelled her to volunteer there  for about a month. Such situation, however,  was just a spark of   tougher times encountered by other advisees that made our schedule scramble.  Like the storm, they brought dark clouds that could have marred the glimmer of hope to finish, had it not been for the team work we have established. A lesson from the flight of  geese we learned in our classes.

(To be continued)

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