Our Students Will Need Extra Help During this Time

The Hawaii Filipino Chronicle, through the Filipino Media Foundation (HFC’s scholarship non-profit), will be offering much-needed help to a deserving college student in the second annual HFC Scholarship Program.

The scholarship recipient will be awarded $2,500+, and must be a full-time college student in Journalism, mass communications or a media-related major from an accredited four-year university or college in Hawaii. The scholarship is for the 2020-2021 academic year. (see cover story for deadline and requirements.)

Last year’s HFC Scholarship Program awardee was Alyssa Jacelyn Salangsang Acob, who later graduated with honors from Hawaii Pacific University with a double major in Integrated Media and Mass Communications. Alyssa was one of the graduating class of seniors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, had to take classes online, and unfortunately suspend traditional graduation ceremonies. But the good news is that she was able to land her first job in a media department during a tough pandemic-job market. We wish her much success.

Kudos to the owners of the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle Dr. Charlie Sonido and Chona Montesines-Sondio for their commitment to our community by helping a deserving Filipino college student, and their commitment to our profession by awarding the scholarship to a deserving student in the journalism-mass communication field.

On establishing the HFC Scholarship Program last year during the HFC’s 25th Anniversary, publisher and managing editor Montesines-Sonido, said “We need future Fil-Am writers and leaders in the fields of journalism and mass communications. We are short of Filipino journalists who will continue our work and serve the Filipinos and our community-at-large in the future.

“We need good journalists who are the ‘eyes and ears of the community’, and the Chronicle believes that we must build a pool of journalists in the future to safeguard our democracy and create a group that reports ‘checks and balances’ actions happening in the government and around us. With good reporting in place by well-trained journalists, we can secure a fair, informative and steady flow of news in our community and around the world. It is important that we support these students who are preparing for their future in the JMC field.”

Uncertain and difficult time for students
Researchers from Penn State and the University of Connecticut conducted a study on the complex challenges faced by students, particularly from underrepresented groups during this pandemic.

“The impacts of this unexpected transition to distance learning are not equal among students,” said Nathanial Brown, professor of mathematics and leader of the research team. “As universities closed, many students entered resource-limited or stressful domestic situations that are not conducive to learning.”

The study found students with low socioeconomic status will have less options, limited access to high-speed internet, and be pressured to work because of household financial demands.

It’s uncertain how Filipino students will be impacted. But historically even before COVID-19, Filipino students have had extra pressure to work straight out of college or while in college compared to their peers. It’s also common for some Filipino students to take off a semester or carry minimum credits to work. With high unemployment for many Filipinos in Hawaii’s hotel industry, which could affect household income, it’s a possibility that there could be added pressure to suspend education temporarily and work to help boost family income for urgent needs.

The Penn State and the University of Connecticut study also found that first generation students of certain racial and ethnic backgrounds live in multigenerational homes where maintaining spatial boundaries could be a challenge, and could leave them more susceptible to the virus, and make it more difficult for distance-learning.

The study describes the exact conditions of Hawaii’s multi-generational living style (Filipino families included). With many public places closed and little option but to stay home, concentrating and studying could be difficult for students in multi-generational dwellings.

“These types of situations could exacerbate challenges to academic performance caused by disruption of learning due to the pandemic,” said Brown.

Filipinos Rising to Meet Today’s Unique Challenges
The Filipino community has been making slow but steady gains in higher education enrollment and graduating rates. We hope that the pandemic will not result in a set back from the progress the community has been making.

First and foremost, multi-generational dwellings must create an environment conducive to studying. Possible tips: create safe quiet zones possibly one room dedicated for work, if not physically possible, at least designate quiet hours in a day. Coordinate necessary outings like shopping, work, or outdoor leisure to match up with studying times for student-household members. This will give students alone time to focus on their work without disruption.

Filipino families must also do their due diligence and seek whatever available financial help is out there in order for their children to continue their higher education.

Scholarships like the HFC Scholarship Program is one avenue for one student. We’re hoping that other established Filipino club and professional organizations will rise to the challenge by offering scholarships to our youth particularly during this difficult time.

Let’s come together and help our youth achieve their dreams for a better education and career. We cannot let conditions during this pandemic to stop this from happening.

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