Brod Alfredo S. Zanoria
Today the science of Geology is increasingly called upon to play a critical role in addressing society’s urgent needs. For example, geologists are needed in providing for the energy and mineral needs of the burgeoning population, protecting the environment from the effects of industrial pollution, and meeting the new challenges brought about by global warming and its consequences on the environment. In the Philippines, much is therefore expected from today’s generation of Geology students, especially at the University of the Philippines National Institute of Geological Sciences (UPNIGS).
The UP Geology Merit Award (UPGMA) is a concrete response to this need. The UPGMA is a cash award program for students of UPNIGS who distinguish themselves by their academic achievement, leadership qualities, and service to the community. The paramount goal of the program is to promote academic and professional qualities essential for transforming today’s students into future leaders of society and the geology profession. It is a product of the partnership between the UPNIGS Faculty and the UP Iuvenis Orbis Geological Fraternity (UPIOGF) out of a common desire to provide effective incentives for student achievement.
The UPGMA program was conceived in 2001 by alumni of UPIOGF who wanted to give something back to the alma mater in gratitude for the skills that have brought success in their own professional endeavors. Founded in 1972 by idealistic students of the former UP Department of Geology, the UPIOGF has grown into a large and tightly-knit brotherhood, with its members scattered around the globe and making their mark in various areas of the geology profession
In 2001, UPIOGF was formally incorporated as a non-profit professional organization (Iuvenis Orbis Inc.). As one of its major goals, the organization committed to promote those essential qualities that prepare students into becoming successful professionals and leaders of society - academic excellence, leadership, and spirit of service.
To make this goal into reality, Iuvenis Orbis Inc. embarked on a partnership with the UPNIGS Faculty, who holds the key in shaping student education and training. The partnership formally took off with the launching of the UPGMA during school year 2002-2003. Now on its seventh year, the UPGMA has become an important part of the academic environment of UPNIGS, motivating the students to ever higher levels of achievement. To date, 26 outstanding students have received the UP Geology Merit Award. Most of the awardees have since joined the ranks of geology professionals. Some are in the midst of pursing advanced studies, and one has joined UPNIGS Faculty after completing his PhD..
ROLE OF UPNIGS FACULTY
The UPNIGS Faculty plays the critical role of selecting the deserving UPGMA awardees. In this role, the Faculty is instrumental in formulating Program rules and ensuring its fair and judicious application. By placing control of the selection process in the hands of the UPNIGS Faculty, the UPGMA Program assures all potential applicants of fair and impartial selection process.
The prominent role of the UPNIGS Faculty also fulfills the intention of the donors to harness the UPGMA as a tool of the faculty for motivating their students and rewarding their accomplishments
ROLE OF IUVENIS ORBIS INC.
The principal role of Iuvenis Orbis Inc. is to facilitate the funding of the UPGMA Program by cultivating donors and conducting fund raising activities. Its secondary role is to coordinate with the UPNIGS faculty in behalf of the donors for the implementation of the Program. As vital link between the donors and UPNIGS, Iuvenis Orbis ensures that the goals of the Program are upheld and that donors are apprised of the Program’s status.
The successful UPGMA recipient receives a monetary award of P10,000, or the peso equivalent of US$200, whichever is larger. It is an outright cash grant, without any restrictions or preconditions.
In addition, the successful awardee receives a framed copy of the UPGMA Citation that formally recognizes the achievement of the awardee. The Citation is signed by the UPNIGS Director and all members of the Selection Committee, and includes a complete list of the Donors for that year. The awarding is usually held during a ceremony attended by the UPNIGS Faculty, representatives of Iuvenis Orbis Inc., students and guests of the awardees.
The number of awards for each school year is determined by Iuvenis Orbis Inc. based on the funds available for that year. During its first two years of existence, three (3) awards were given each year. Subsequently, this was increased to five (5) awards per year. A student may receive the award only once for each of the categories (undergraduate and graduate). Because the awards are concrete incentives for raising the level of student performance, it is the goal of Iuvenis Orbis to maximize the number of awards available each year through its vigorous solicitation efforts.
The selection of UPGMA awardees is administered by a Selection Committee comprised of three members: (1) the NIGS Director or his/her faculty designee, (2) a second faculty member chosen by the faculty, and (3) a representative of Iuvenis Orbis Inc. The Iuvenis Orbis representative is designated by the Board of Trustees of Iuvenis Orbis Inc. and should be an alumnus, preferably a member of UPNIGS Faculty.
The NIGS Director or his/her designee presides as chairperson of the Selection Committee. Each member of the committee is entitled to one vote; decisions are based on simple majority. The Selection Committee has final decision on all matters related to rules, selection of awardees, and appeals.
The applicant must be a bona fide UP Geology Major who meets the minimum academic requirements established by the Selection Committee. The applicant must also be registered with the University during the program year. In addition the applicant should be of good moral character and without any previous disciplinary action by the university. The application process requires a completed application form, an endorsement by a UPNIGS faculty member, a copy of grades, and a written essay by the applicant on a topic determined by the Committee
Applicants are evaluated based on the following weighted criteria: Academics - 50%, Leadership and Public Service - 25 %, and Written Essay or Oral Interview - 25 %
When the scores of some applicants are close, the Selection Committee may devise an appropriate process to determine the more deserving candidate. All decisions by the Selection Committee are final.
Funding of the UPGMA Program comes from the generous donations by individuals, corporations and other entities who share the goals of the Program. Anyone who subscribes to the goals of the UPGMA Program may become a Donor, regardless of his/her alma mater, professional specialization, or organizational affiliation. The minimum donation is $50 for Individual Donors. Corporate Donors are also welcome.
In recognition of their valuable contribution, the names of the donors are listed on the UPGMA Citation which is given to the successful awardee.
In addition, a UPGMA Bulletin Board has been established at the UPNIGS which contains the names of all the awardees, the list of current Donors, and pertinent information about the UPGMA selection process.
PREPARING FOR TOMORROW
The UPGMA has only been around for seven years, but its list of awardees already provides a revealing glimpse of the future leaders of the geology profession in the Philippines. While the amount of cash award is modest, the fact that it is available to every deserving student every year, through a selection process whose integrity is above reproach – has made the UP Geology Merit Award an important part of the landscape shaping the academic attitudes of today’s UP Geology students.
In the final analysis, this the true value of UPGMA – in being able to touch the lives of the students, in affecting their self-confidence and self-motivation at this critical moment – to prepare them for the formidable challenges awaiting them as professional geologists, such as helping our society cope with a restless planet that’s now undergoing some very profound changes.