Margarita de la Torre-de la Cruz
Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
UPV Tacloban College
Please share your most memorable story of kindness and compassion on campus.
At about 9:00 a.m. on July 6, 2006, fire broke out in an area near the UPVTC campus where many of our over 1,100 undergraduate students are boarding. We were about to start our faculty meeting, but the campus suddenly became noisy with people shouting “fire!” Faculty, staff, and students started running out of their offices and classrooms. Some male faculty and staff went to help rescue our students, literally braving the fire. And when the smoke settled, we gathered our students—some students from other schools also joined in—and provided them accommodation in our old, vacated library building and free meals for several weeks.
Faculty, staff, students, alumni, local business, and government offices donated food, non-food items and even cash to help the students get back on their feet. I was coordinating the donations, and I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness and love for our students. In fact, our students did not feel abandoned and were the envy of students from other schools. They even joked that they felt they got more than what they had lost to the fire.
How can UP help students, faculty, and staff deal better with life’s difficult challenges?
As an academic institution, UP’s main role is providing quality education that will enable students to apply their learning from the university to cope with life’s challenges, to better not only their lives but also to contribute to the development of others. This means that UP must offer a quality curriculum, one that develops competencies for lifelong learning and holistic development. It is not enough that students develop competencies in an area of inquiry; they should also develop skills, values, and attitudes related with content knowledge. The role of the faculty, staff, and the leadership of the university in inculcating values like integrity, compassion, leadership, stewardship, citizenship, etc., cannot be overemphasized. We are, after all, the role models of our students.