Pursuing a Career in Nonprofit

by HFC Staff

Like many Filipinos, Bianca Vinoya is no stranger to adversity. Growing up in the small town of Noveleta, Cavite in the Philippines, she and her family frequently experienced severe flooding, as a result of living near the Ylang-Ylang River. Her family also went through health shocks that exhausted their finances.

Because of what she and her family went through, she decided to dedicate her life to improving lives of the less fortunate, trying to solve complex problems of poverty and development, and ultimately contribute to making the world a better place for everyone.

Vinoya’s experience of flooding and disasters made her pursue a career in development and nonprofit organizations. She took up BS Management at the Ateneo de Manila University with a minor in Sociology, graduating in 2015.

Through her hard work, skills, and talent, she was awarded the John J. Caroll Award for the Social Sciences, which is given for those who excel in the social sciences and demonstrated the ability to bridge social science perspectives with global issues.

After college, Vinoya was recruited by her sociology professor to work at the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC), a social science and development research organization.

There, she worked on various research projects as writer, editor, and field researcher. She also vetted candidates for their programs such as the IPC Summer School and Visiting Research Associates.

Through the IPC, she heard stories of Filipino women, children, and youth who were living in extreme poverty – these further fueled her passion to do the best she can to dedicate her career to improving people’s lives.

Vinoya’s experience with IPC is what started her career in nonprofit. She has been working in the non-profit industry for six years now. Creating better opportunities for the future generation is what made her pursue a career in nonprofit.

“It’s always the goal that future generations live and lead better lives than we did,” Vinoya told Hawaii Filipino Chronicle. “It’s also part of my commitment to social justice. There is so much inequality in the world, and I just want to be part of the solution, rather than contributing to societal problems.”

In 2019, she decided to take graduate studies abroad in the field of development. Although most master’s programs do not offer full scholarships, Fordham University in Bronx, New York saw Vinoya’s skills and passion and granted her the Presidential Fellowship, a scholarship program that covers all tuition costs for exceptional students.

In graduate school, she learned more theories on social development and its practical applications in nonprofit work, and how these can be utilized in solving complex problems of poverty in different contexts.

Vinoya says that nonprofit work requires pure commitment.

“No one goes nonprofit or development work for the money. You have to believe in whatever you’re doing, and whatever you’re doing should actually be bringing good to people,” she said.

At Fordham, she was also offered the position of Editor-in-Chief of the IPED Journals, where she selected and edited articles written by students in the graduate program.

She also worked as Research Associate of the 2021 Fordham Francis Index and the 2020 Fordham Francis Index, which analyzed multi-dimensional poverty in different countries. She was also awarded the Campion Fellowship for Project Management and Cassamarca Fellowship for her work in international development and relations.

With the opportunities she received in graduate school, Vinoya says meeting new people and making new friends is the most memorable part of her studies.

“It’s extremely inspiring to meet other people who are passionate about doing good in the world,” she explained.

In August, Vinoya graduated with her master’s degree in International Political Economy and Development, conferred with a Distinction in Political and Economic Analysis and Distinction in Project Management.

When asked about what advice she would give to those aspiring to work in the non-profit industry, she said:

“Be willing to do anything — also to find out what you’re most effective in, and what you like best. There are so many opportunities in nonprofits for different types of skills such as creatives, fundraising, etc. It’s really just finding what you like, what you’re good at, and applying them to your job.”

As of writing, Vinoya has a social science and development studies article under review for the Philippine Sociological Review, and has a job offer with Breakthrough New York, a nonprofit organization that supports students from low-income communities so that they can pursue higher education.

She hopes to continue taking more leadership roles in the future and “seeing positive changes in the communities we’re helping.”

True to her roots and to her passion, Vinoya continues to help her family in the Philippines, all the while helping others in every way she can through her career.

“I started my nonprofit work in the Philippines, and I’d love to help out in the future if I can.”

As a message to HFC readers, Vinoya says helping each other is the best support we can give during these hard times.

“People should continue to support causes they believe in, especially in a time when we’re confronted with so many problems. We should help out beyond our families, if we can, because there are people suffering more than us.”

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