Notre Dame of Marbel University is a Marist educational institution committed to the total Christian education of youth, especially those most in need. The university tries to translate the charism and the spirit of St. Marcellin Champagnat, founder of the Marist Brothers, by developing the values of humility, simplicity, and respect for the dignity of work and love for the poor among its workers, students and the community to which it belongs.
For many years now, the Marist Brothers continue to support programs for the poor but deserving students who want to earn a quality college education. The Grant-In-Aid/Working Student Program is one of many such programs that the Marists have supported.
The working student program has its own history, which is as old as the institution itself. In 1946, when the school was being built, a student-oriented program for the financially needy was begun. The students’ work varied from the maintenance of the school grounds, the convents, the armory, and the church, including the stable. Students would help out in the carpentry and masonry work whenever missionary schools were opened in other places. As for their studies, the working students were given consideration in recognition of the manual work they accomplished.
As the institution grew and expanded, so did the number of working students. More and more varied tasks were given. They were deployed to laboratories, offices, libraries, canteens and workshops. Wherever help was needed, the study-work program effectively provided a responsive, dedicated workforce.
In 1976, the program underwent a major evaluation and reorganization. Policies were revised and updated. Rules, regulations and requirements were defined and carefully documented. Behind these changes was the person everyone calls the "father" of the GIA/working students, "Bro. James F. Adams, FMS" . He was the first director of the program and was followed by Rosanni Sanz-Ilagan, Carmen Facura-Nana and now it’s my turn, Ma. Conception Ureta.
At its beginnings, the program accommodated 17 beneficiaries. That number gradually increased until, by SY2001-2002, the total number of beneficiaries reached 293. This program has helped countless numbers of individuals reach out for their dreams and make them realities. A working student’s life on campus is no bed of roses. It is difficult because the student has to balance academics and the other work, and yet financial resources for personal allowance and other school expenses often are inadequate. What is heartbreaking is when I hear stories about their parents not being able to support them. Thus they end up doing extra jobs, off campus, just to be able to eat a decent meal and pay for their school and personal needs.
There are people who made things bearable for the working students. These unsung heroes made a difference in their lives. Foremost, of course, is the Notre Dame of Marbel University for the opportunities it provided: Bro. James F. Adams, FMS for his dedicated and unselfish love for the poor; the mentors and unit heads who gave their time to teach the working students, making them the better persons they are now; and, of course, their own families and friends who stood by them.
BE PROUD TO BE A GIA!
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