University of Santo Tomas

Part of the journey: UST college support staff get spotlight at grad rites

Patricia Kahanap

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Part of the journey: UST college support staff get spotlight at grad rites

Students cheer as non-teaching staff march during a graduation ceremony at the University of Santo Tomas. Photo by Jessica Luna/The Flame

(1st UPDATE) University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters support staff hope that administrators in other colleges and universities also give their non-teaching personnel the appreciation they deserve

MANILA, Philippines – Teachers are not the only people responsible for a student’s success. It takes a village to raise a child. This year, a college within the University of Santo Tomas (UST) decided it’s about time that employees behind the scenes also get recognized for their contributions to a student’s academic journey.

During the graduation rites of the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) on Monday, June 10, several non-teaching staff were asked to march and take a bow in front of over 700 graduating students, as seen in a now-viral video posted by student publication The Flame.

This initiative from AB’s administration meant a lot to security and maintenance personnel like Roann Quiton and Ramon Ciruela, who were often overlooked in important celebrations like graduations.  

“Iba po ’yung pakiramdam na nag-march kami, tapos nagpalakpakan at naghihiyawan po lahat ng estudyante. Sobrang nakakataba po ng puso,” said Roann, who has spent the last 10 years working as a security guard in UST. 

(It felt surreal when students clapped and cheered as we marched. It was heartwarming.)

All in a day’s work

Letty Cabral, one of AB’s office clerks, said that it melts her heart when students find value in the seemingly little things she does for them.

She has dealt with different kinds of student queries over the past 24 years, from enrollment to graduation.

“A student told me, ‘Thanks to your office, I will finally graduate.’ I was teary-eyed because I thought they found us grumpy sometimes, but they actually appreciate the simple things we do for them,” she told Rappler in a mix of English and Filipino.

The job of support staff isn’t easy. Just like educators, they have to address daily a plethora of concerns from learners with varying attitudes and personalities.

They only ask students for two things in return: recognition and respect.

‘Sana all’

During this season, rooted in recognition, AB’s support staff hope that administrators in other colleges and universities also give their non-teaching personnel the appreciation they deserve.

“Malaking part ’yun sa amin kahit akala mo maglalakad lang kami,” Letty said. “Lahat ng nangyayari, may malaking part ’yung mga admin kasi sa kanila nagsisimula ’yung recognition namin.” 

(It means a lot to us, even though we just marched. The administration had a big part in everything that happened because we were appreciated because of them.)

Each college in UST has different graduation programs and rituals. But, typically, only students, faculty members, and university administrators make an entrance and march on stage.

“Since may opportunity na magbigay ng pagpupugay sa lahat ng naging bahagi ng successful journey ng mga bata sa kanilang stay sa ating college, I really requested na mag-march ang mga support staff,” AB Dean Melanie Turingan told Rappler. “Ang admin napapalitan, ang mga staff mananatili, kaya it’s high time na maparangalan sila.”

(Since there is an opportunity to give recognition to everyone who has become a part of a student’s journey in our college, I really requested that the support staff be allowed to march. Administrators can be replaced, but staff remain, so it’s high time for them to be honored.)

The Dean said that she had gotten the idea from UST’s College of Science, which has been doing a similar practice for their own graduation rites. 

Blas Nicolas, one of AB’s computer laboratory technicians, said that this was the first time that he and his colleagues were put on the spotlight during a graduation ceremony. He has been employed by the university for 30 years now.

“Maski na kasi nagtatrabaho kami, hindi naman kami masyado nakikita ng mga estudyante. Some of us nakatago eh, so maganda nare-recognize ’yung gawa [namin],” he told Rappler.

(Even though we work, students don’t see us often. Some of us are behind the scenes, so it’s good that our work gets recognized.)

What can you do to show recognition for employees in your school? –

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Patricia Kahanap

Patricia Kahanap is a digital communications specialist at Rappler.