Journalism Scholars Grateful For Tuition Assistance, Writing Opportunities And Filipino Connections

by Jasmine Sadang, 2021 Journalism Scholar

When an opportunity presents itself, one should take it. Who knows what could happen once one takes that moment to seize the opportunity? Who knows where those opportunities may lead? Such opportunities sometimes come in the form of scholarships.

The Hawaii Filipino Chronicle established an annual journalism scholarship program in 2019 for Filipino-American college students from Hawaii majoring in journalism and/or mass communications (JMC) who plan to use their education to seek careers in the JMC field. Since then, three students, including myself, have won $2,500 to help pay for tuition as well as the opportunity to write and develop stories for the newspaper about Filipino topics we are passionate about.

Dr. Edna Bautista, the Chronicle’s journalism scholarship chairperson, said the editors and committee are pleased to give money to students—future journalists and mass communicators—and help them succeed.

“Our scholarship program is more than just about giving financial aid. It is about giving these budding writers a medium to use the skills they learned in the classroom and apply them in the newsroom. It is also about reconnecting them with their Filipino roots and branching out to the younger generation,” Dr. Bautista explained.

In exchange, we scholars contribute stories about our generation and broaden the Chronicle’s audience. Plus, we get byline credits and news clips in a real newspaper for our portfolios and resumes that give us an edge in applying for internships and JMC jobs.

Before the Chronicle awards another scholar next month, I followed up with my predecessors to see where life has taken them post-graduation.

Alyssa Acob – 2019 Scholar
Alyssa Acob from Kapolei double-majored in Integrated Multimedia and Mass Communication and graduated with honors in 2020 from Hawaii Pacific University. The novel coronavirus forced her to finish her senior spring semester classes all online. She did not even have a traditional graduation ceremony. But she maintained a positive outlook and found employment at Pearlside Church in Pearl City as the digital media manager. This past June, she became a campus missionary for Every Nation Ministries.

“At work now, I didn’t realize that journalism/writing/mass communications education and skills are weaved into every part of my job,” Acob said.

“As a digital media manager, I oversaw the church’s website, app and social media. Being able to make sure information is correct, cohesive, clear and simple enough for others to understand was a vital part of my job. Also being able to capture people’s life stories/testimonies to be able to share with others through social media definitely brought out the skills I’ve learned in all three areas.”

As a campus missionary, she explained that she still uses these skills in communicating with people and distributing information to those within the ministry. She said, “These skills will definitely continue to be expanded and sharpened no matter in what job or career God places me.”

Looking back on her scholarship experience, Acob said that the Chronicle’s journalism program has helped lighten the financial hardship that would have been even greater due to the pandemic.

“Winning the journalism scholarship not only helped me financially, but it gave me hope and encouragement to know that there are people out there—especially in the Filipino community—that want to invest in the next generation,” she said.

“It also allowed me to meet new people and make new connections that I would not have made if it wasn’t for the scholarship. It’s also so awesome to be able to meet and connect with other scholarship winners—and with future ones—to share our experiences and know that a career in this field is possible!”

Brenna Flores – 2020 Scholar
Brenna Flores from Waipahu majored in Communication-Marketing and graduated with honors in 2021from Chaminade University of Honolulu. She was fortunate that she could attend commencement in person, although socially distanced and with limited guests. Following graduation, she found a job as a project coordinator for TransPerfect translation company. “My job is at an international company, so I have to communicate with a mass audience on a daily basis. My mass communications degree has prepared me to communicate effectively and efficiently to a wide range of people. My background has also taught me when to modify my communication style in various ways depending on the audience I am communicating with,” she said.

Flores also reflected on her scholarship experience and said it “gave me the freedom to be creative and brainstorm my own ideas for stories rather than have a topic assigned and graded.”

While expanding her journalism skills at the Chronicle, she was given the chance to learn more about her Filipino roots, as she is also half Portuguese.

“This scholarship also presented me with a platform to explore my Filipino heritage and learn more about it. As I wrote stories of my Filipino background, I was able to do research and better my understanding of my culture and learned from some peers like Dr. Bautista who not only helped with the editing of my stories but also shared with me different ways she engages in her Filipino background and the specific Filipino traditions she and her family share,” she said.

Advice for future scholars
Acob and Flores also shared their advice to young Filipinos interested in careers in the journalism and mass communications field.

“If it’s something you’re really interested in and passionate about doing, go for it! Don’t worry about figuring out what’s going to happen after you graduate college. You’ll get there when you get there,” Acob said.

“But for now, if wanting to learn more about journalism/mass comm/media is something that is placed in your mind and heart to do, go all in and just keep taking the next steps you need to take. All the knowledge and skills you learn from it is so valuable in any job or career. Everyone’s path is also different, so don’t compare your journey with someone else’s. Your journey is meant especially for you!”

Flores also encouraged young Fil-Ams to follow their passion and what their hearts desire. “I think it is very evident in Filipino cultures especially, where Filipino parents try to steer their children in the direction of high-paying successful careers like the medical field. While the money may sound tempting, it can lead to a life of misery and a lot of stress,” Flores said. “I highly encourage you young Filipinos to follow your heart and your passion because ultimately, I do believe it will lead to a life of happiness and truly enjoying what you do for work.”

I agree with my fellow scholars and share this advice with young Filipinos considering careers in JMC: “Follow your heart. I know that sometimes a career path in the engineering or medical field looks better because of the pay. But you should really consider doing something that you love. If you love writing, storytelling or anything media related, you definitely should try out the JMC field because who knows? You’ll probably love it! You don’t want to live your life thinking that you should’ve taken the other road.”

2022 JMC Scholar wanted
It has been a positive experience for Alyssa, Brenna and me to have won the journalism scholarship. We encourage others to apply and spread the word about the opportunities that this newspaper can provide.“We are currently looking for JMC majors to join our prestigious ‘Scholars Circle’ and the Chronicle ‘ohana,” Dr. Bautista said. “We can help financially and professionally. Just seize the moment, take advantage of what we offer and apply for our scholarship today.”

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