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The science community has gained a fresh shot in the arm. 

Graduating with honors for school year 2012-2013, three hundred eighty (380) scholars of the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) are off to bolster the Philippine science community as they were honored during the “In Touch with Excellence” held during the 2013 National Science and Technology Week. 

Overall, 10 summa cum laude, 74 magna cum laude, 285 cum laude, six honorable mentions, one academic excellence, and one academic distinction were awarded—both in the undergraduate and graduate levels—during the ceremony. Seven scholar-graduates were also given incentives for completing their degrees earlier than the prescribed period of studies. 

For the undergraduate scholarships, 64 honor graduates under the DOST-SEI Merit Scholarship—the agency’s pioneer scholarship program for undergraduates—were recognized which listed three summa cum laude, 13 magna cum laude, 47 cum laude and one honorable mention. Four scholars also completed their courses earlier than the prescribed period. 

Meanwhile, the Republic Act 7687 or the Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994 produced 291 scholar graduates with honors headlined by six summa cum laude, 60 magna cum laude, 229 cum laude, four with academic distinction, five honorable mention, and three early-graduates. 

As for the graduate scholarships, a total of 115 MS and 37 PhD students graduated under the Accelerated Science and Technology Human Resource Development Program (ASTHRDP). This Program is a unified and innovative human resource development strategy aimed at hastening the production of highly trained scientists by awarding MS and PhD scholarship grants to eligible individuals who will fill in the gaps of identified areas of science and technology. Under the program, nine scholars finished cum laude, and one as an academic excellence awardee. 

On the other hand, the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) program—a graduate scholarship program in priority engineering courses and related field—recorded 66 MS and 18 PhD graduates, with one summa cum laude and one magna cum laude. 

DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo applauded the scholar-graduates for achieving excellence in their respective S&T programs and referred to them as welcome additions to the growing community of scientists, engineers, and innovators whom the country expect to contribute in national development. 

“Science and technology is the sleeping giant of our economy that, once awakened, would propel our country to greater heights and we need people like you to rouse it. S&T pushes for transformative and inclusive growth giving us the best chance to really move forward in a sustainable manner,” Montejo remarked. 

He invited the scholar-graduates to join the DOST in sculpting the society into “one that Filipinos can be very proud of—one where science, technology and innovation serve as primary anchors and the science community as major channels of growth.” 

Director Elizabeth Fontanilla, Officer-in-Charge for SEI, also reminded the scholars that they are now entering a much bigger battlefield where their gifts are needed. 

“The world of work would be harder, for sure, but as DOST scholar-graduates you are primed to maintain the excellence you’ve shown for most of your student life,” said Fontanilla. 

“Don’t be scared in going after big things. After all, that’s how DOST scholars are known for,” she added. 

To close the ceremony, some scholar-graduates delivered testimonials to their fellow graduates. 

Aaron Ferdinand Bea, a MS Mechanical Engineering summa cum laude graduate from De La Salle University said that regardless of specialization, position, or profession, scholar-graduates are expected to be ‘problem solvers’.

“I believe that solving the problems interesting and meaningful to us is the key to finding purpose and satisfaction in our profession and our lives,” Bea said. “I am certain that there is no shortage of problems to address.” 

“I hope that we can all move forward acting with purpose and meaning towards improving this country and the world in ways meaningful to us,” he added. (30)