“When you apply [for Fulbright scholarship programs], it should not just be about having another feather in your cap. Fulbright will test your heart for public service; you must go back and serve the country.”

This was the takeaway of Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamias, Professor at the Department of Development Journalism (DDJ), College of Development Communication, when she shared her postdoctoral fellowship journey at the Fulbright Commission in the Philippines’ webinar “Fulbright Conversations: A Fulbright Scholar’s Journey to a World of Possibilities and Positivity” held on March 14, 2021.The webinar was participated in by various individuals from all over the country and was an orientation for prospective applicants.

According to Ms. Milagros R. Tan, senior program officer of the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (PAEF), the Fulbright Philippines Program offers seven scholarship opportunities for particular age groups and career paths in prestigious universities in the United States of America. Dr. Barroga-Jamias is a fellow of the Hubert H. Humphrey Program, for mid-career professionals. To date since 1979, there have only been 170 Humphrey Fellows in the Philippines. Ms. Tan explained that the Humphrey Fellowship is considered the most competitive and selective of all of the Fulbright programs, as it is the only one to have two levels of screening. The initial screening is done by Fulbright-Philippines, at least four nominees are forwarded to Washington, D.C for final selection. The Humphrey Fellowship aims to develop professionals with a broader perspective of their chosen fields, so they may be able to take on higher career responsibilities and enhance their potential for national leadership. It also aims to widen scholars’ professional networks by introducing them to their counterpart experts in the US.

Dr. Barroga-Jamias did her fellowship in 2010 at the Phillip Merril College of Journalism of the University of Maryland, College Park, where she took courses and internships on multi-platform journalism, media literacy, and science communication. After her fellowship, she stayed true to the values of Fulbright by going back to UPLB to serve. As an administrator, she utilized her exposure in the fast-paced, action-packed media landscape in Washington, DC when she was appointed director of the Office of Public Relations of the Office of the Chancellor (OPR-OC) during Dr. Rex Victor O. Cruz’ administration and as Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs and designated official spokesperson of UPLB during the administration of Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. She further introduced multi-platform reportage to the university’s public information system at OPR in 2012. This allowed for a wider audience reach and engagement that improved UPLB’s institutional visibility and furthering its mandate as a graduate, research, and public service university. She also strengthened good relations between UPLB and the media and the University’s allied agencies, local government units, and the Los Baños Science Community Foundation, Inc. (LBSCFI), as the Chancellor’s permanent representative from 2015 to 2019.

As a faculty member, Dr. Barroga-Jamias worked with her students to enhance the multi-platform offering in DEVC 123 (Management and Production of a Community Newspaper). Likewise, she contributed to the transformation of the new generalist curriculum of the BS Development Communication program in 2011, which put a premium on multi-media competencies. As part of her extension and public service efforts, she also served as vice president of the Hubert H. Humphrey Alumni Philippines from 2015-2019 and helped organize “Humphrey Voices Series”, a seminar series tackling relevant social issues, facilitated by experts who are all  Humphrey  alumni. She also applied the sense of interculturality from her fellowship experience when she served as a quality assessor for the ASEAN University Network (AUN) Quality Assessment of the UPLB internationalization initiatives. Dr. Barroga-Jamias was recognized by the CDC Alumni Association as a Distinguished Alumna in Development Communication Education and Community Relations for demonstrating how Devcom can serve as a bedrock for administration and leadership in the academe. The award was conferred at the 2018 UPLB Loyalty Day. 

In her parting words, Dr. Barroga-Jamias shared that her experience has taught her to become a servant-leader and encouraged the participants to apply to the various Fulbright programs,  to better serve their constituents and the country.

Other Fulbright fellows who shared their stories were Atty. Damcelle T. Cortez, faculty member at the College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf); Dr. Ivar Nicholas Fojas, former faculty member at the Department of Humanities of the College of Arts and Sciences and professional classical guitarist; Mr. Jonathan Flores, a graduate student of MS in Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the Washington State University; and Mr. Raymund Lara Paclibar, English as a Second Language (non-degree program) student at Gonzaga University in Washington State under the Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship Program. 

The webinar was coordinated by Fulbright fellows Prof. Carla Edith G. Jimena and Prof. Ron Jay P. Dangcalan of the Department of Social Development Services of the College of Human Ecology (DSD-CHE). The Office of International Linkages also officially endorsed the webinar through  CDC’s International Relations Officer (IRO) Dr. Elaine DC. Llarena. (Miguel Victor T. Durian)