On 10 December 2022, the conferment of the degree of Associate in Arts to the graduating class of 2022 was done during the 26th Commencement Exercises of the University of the Philippines Open University. The ceremony was held at the UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna. For Mr. Enrico M. Feria, or El as he is more commonly called, this was a celebration of all his achievements, namely, as a UPOU Bridge Program completer, AA graduate and Ugnayan ng Pahinungόd UPOU volunteer.
In July 2020, El joined the Bridge Program of UPOU, where he enrolled in both the Bridge English and Bridge Mathematics courses offered by the Faculty of Education (FEd) and UPOU Ugnayan ng Pahinungόd. Aside from being curious, El decided to join the Bridge Program because he wanted to enhance his knowledge and prepare himself for the Undergraduate Assessment Test (UgAT) of UPOU, which he was scheduled to take as an applicant to the AA program. El’s parents also encouraged him as they knew these courses would prepare him for the reality of submitting assignments on given deadlines in UPOU, since he never had to deal with any deadlines his entire life as a homeschooled student. After completing the Bridge Program, El was fully prepared to enter a new chapter in his life as an AA student.
Inspired by his older sister who took the AA program as a stepping stone to be admitted into UP Diliman, El decided to do the same. When he was admitted as an AA student during the First Trimester of Academic Year 2020-2021, El took it upon himself to initiate communications with his fellow students and hold study group sessions to help one another with their lessons. Eventually, El went on to assume several roles that greatly benefitted the AA program and community. From being elected as the head student officer of the AA community to being appointed as a student assistant (SA) of the UPOU Office of Public Affairs (OPA) and AA program and resource person for events, El has contributed so much of his time, knowledge and skills to his fellow students and other stakeholders of the AA program.
When El took up the National Service Training Program (NSTP) courses Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) 1 and 2, he fully realized his own personal aspiration to be of help to others. These courses not only sparked his interest in volunteering for the Ugnayan ng Pahinungόd but also showed him that even while isolated from one another due to the pandemic, helping others in need must and can go on. El’s CWTS 1 project centered on helping a small group of volunteers in Tarambid, Inc. who were providing educational materials in a mountain area in Antique. Even with the purely online set-up, El and his group were able to help the group with scheduled posts and publicity materials that increased their social media presence. After completing his NSTP-CWTS courses, El knew that he wanted to keep on volunteering to help others. When he remembered that the nature of the Bridge Program is composed of all volunteers, he immediately answered the call to serve as a Bridge English course coordinator for the 2021 offering of the Bridge Program of UPOU. In teaching the participants as a volunteer of the Ugnayan ng Pahinungόd, El made sure to integrate his own learnings from the AA courses into the modules.
Photo taken during a Bridge English Synchronous Session
Indeed, all of these achievements helped El grow both personally and professionally. Through these experiences, El learned the importance of teamwork, how and when to become a team player or leader, and how to understand people more. Moreover, El found his niche and love for video editing, podcasting and photography through the events of the AA program. With the development of these skills, El was given several work opportunities in various offices of UPOU during his undergraduate years.
At present, El now works a full-time job as a Video Content Creator at PropertyAccess PH. He is also currently waiting for the result of his application for admission into the Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Studies (BAMS) program, as he plans to enhance his skills in multimedia studies and graduate with Latin honors.
Looking back on his fulfilling UPOU journey as an AA alumnus, El hopes to inspire his fellow graduates to always keep their hearts and minds open to any opportunity that life will bring:
“The only message that I have for my fellow graduates would be to seize every opportunity you are presented with. Yes, it might be scary, it could be difficult, and it might not be the best experience the first time, but how else would you find out if you are good at it or not? As the wise Master Yoda once said, ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’”