A Full Circle: Two Years of Paying it Forward
Two years have passed since I received the Global UGRAD award from the Philippine Fulbright Commission and, although perhaps cliché, the program changed my life.
In my opinion, Global UGRAD is unique because it is holistic. In addition to experiencing the rigor of U.S. coursework and the diversity of American culture, the Global UGRAD Program empowers students to believe in themselves and confirms that they are worth investing in. Global UGRAD paves the way for the younger generation to grow and assert themselves. While on the Global UGRAD Program, I realized that the experience is largely about what you make of it and taking small steps. At the time, it didn’t feel like a huge undertaking, but when I look back on it, I realize how far I have come. My passion for international education grew even stronger when I returned home. My stint inspired me to explore a career in international education. Today, I work at EducationUSA (EdUSA) as an Education Adviser.
Since I joined the team at EdUSA, the Philippines had a 7.3% increase in international students studying in the United States. This is the second year in a row that the number of Filipino students going to the U.S. to study has increased. I am encouraged by these increases and the positive change that I have been part of.
Global UGRAD has helped me a lot in my professional development. Last May, I even saw Amy and Patrick, a former Global UGRAD staff member, at NAFSA, an international conference where I realized that I have gone full-circle since my exchange. At this conference, I facilitated meetings for the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED), a Philippine government agency in charge of all bilateral agreements between local universities and foreign education institutions. This work led to approximately 15 partnerships for Filipino students and professionals to participate in exchange programs in the U.S.
So far, my journey has been very enriching, humbling, and transformative. Global UGRAD prepared me for this path and my memories from the exchange continuously motivate me to grow in my profession and pay forward the benefits I have experienced as a scholar. Last December, CHED’s commissioner awarded me a commendation for my “invaluable assistance and unwavering support to the representatives of the Philippine government and State Universities and Colleges” at NAFSA.
Oftentimes, my coworkers tease me – in a friendly way – for wanting to change the world. I suppose I work with urgency because I’d like to think that the youth cannot be put on hold when they are on their way to reaching their full potential. I’d rather be ambitious and tenacious to pay forward the privileges I’ve been given than be idle and keep the amazing impact of international education to myself. The best part is that I also see my fellow Global UGRADs fighting the good fight – the family we have is truly like no other. I hope we continue to grow bigger and better!
Written by Christine Grace Meneses Catindig, 2016-17 Global UGRAD student from the Philippines at Utica College