LOS BAÑOS, Laguna – SEARCA organized the Orientation for New and Continuing Scholars on 18 August 2019 at Drilon Hall, SEARCA headquarters. 60 students taking their masters and doctoral degrees in UPLB attended the event. This orientation is regularly held to acquaint the students about SEARCA and their responsibilities as scholars of the institution. This is also an avenue for them to meet their fellow scholars.
Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, welcomed the participants and provided them with helpful suggestions in navigating the next years of their graduate school life. Dr. Gregorio highlighted the importance of finding a mentor which can guide the scholars in their academic pursuits and personal development. Lastly, Dr. Gregorio challenged them to excel in their studies and in return, SEARCA will likewise do its best to support their endeavors.
The participants of the orientation were given an opportunity to introduce themselves and work together through a game to test their knowledge about the scholarship program and what is expected of them as SEARCA scholars. Red Team, composed of Ma. Evic C. Panganiban, Marla V. Relloso, Sokkunthea Kheng, Cipto Nugroho, and Ong Quoc Cuong, emerged as winners.
After the game, Dr. Maria Cristeta N. Cuaresma, Program Head of SEARCA's Graduate Education and Institutional Development Department (GEIDD) discussed the administration and management of the SEARCA Graduate Scholarship Program, its policies, and guidelines. She opened with some statistics such as the scholarship grantees per country. Dr. Cuaresma likewise emphasized the importance of having a good standing every semester, the prompt submission of documentary requirements for the release of stipend and continuation of scholarship duration, and safety reminders while staying inside and outside the campus. The discussion was followed by an open forum where the scholars clarified some points and provided suggestions based on their earlier experience.
Part of the program was the election for the new set of officers for the SEARCA Scholars Association (SSA) facilitated by Mr. Zadieshar G. Sanchez, the outgoing SSA President. Mr. Sanchez was joined by his fellow outgoing officers during the election.
Mr. Romiel John P. Basan, a PhD in Agricultural Economics student from the Philippines, was voted as new SSA President for Academic Year 2019-2020. With him were the rest of the country representatives who will fill out the rest of the officer positions: Simao M. Belo (Timor Leste), Viengvilaiphone Botthoulath (Laos), Hnin Su San (Myanmar), Cipto Nugroho (Indonesia), Issaree Supnui (Thailand), Mai Tien Huy (Vietnam), and Vat Sovanny (Cambodia).
Dr. Cuaresma closed the orientation program by inviting the students to actively participate and support future activities of SEARCA. Besides this orientation held in UPLB, other orientation-seminars are likewise conducted in different study posts where SEARCA scholars are based such as in Institut Pertanian Bogor (Indonesia), Kasetsart University (Thailand), Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia), and Universiti Putra Malaysia (Malaysia).