By: Philip James P. Erpelo
Out of 200 aspiring participants, Joanna Marie Viray secured her spot among five high school students who were chosen to represent the Philippines in the United States as a participant in the Southeast Asian Youth Leaders Program (SEAYLP) which is scheduled to take place on April 2019. Carrying the all-out support of Asia Pacific College, she will travel to Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb, Illinois in order for her leadership skills to be enhanced, strengthened, and fully maximized.
As a Grade 11 student who possesses great resilience, excellent English communication skills, and a passion for service, she has been recognized by the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines as a young Filipino who is ready for advanced leadership roles. Her willingness to serve the community through the full utilization of her solid academic and social skills has caused her to nail the application that would provide her with a cross-cultural experience.
“Success is something that you shouldn’t keep to yourself; it is having the feeling of being positive toward other people,” Joanna said. She wants her classmates and friends to find security in their uniqueness, to understand themselves, and to pursue their passion.
Through the generosity of the Department of State which will cover both program and travel expenses, Joanna will be enjoying three weeks in the United States. Through a series of seminars, activities, and workshops, she will return to the Philippines with a skill set that can handle leadership, communication, and other matters that are related to project development.
The overall aim of this program is to encourage students from 10 ASEAN member countries to have a shared view when it comes to political, economic, and socio-cultural issues. Students will return to their respective countries as problem solvers and proactive members of society. “Whenever I talk to someone outside my school, I always carry the core values of APC; it's not only head knowledge that my teachers wanted to impart, but they also focused on heart application which makes us industry-ready,” Joanna said. She also thanks her adviser, John Michael Santos, for encouraging her to take a leap of faith in this endeavor.