Gabay launches SSG for freshie scholars
By Stephanie Pathy and Camille Silvio
Prepared by Kyle Mark J. Victoriano

To guide about 380 Ateneo freshman scholars to navigate the university community, 48 upperclassmen facilitators make up Gabay’s Scholars’ Support Group (SSG) project launched last September 12, 2022.

As a year-long project, SSG’s mandate includes scheduling hangouts and individual consultations (ICs) together with their group and providing a bucket list of tasks to be accomplished until the end of the semester.

Gabay believes that the participants played a significant role in the freshmen scholars’ adjustment to the Atenean environment, so the attendance in the first hangout session counted as service hours to the financial aid scholars and facilitators alike last September 12. The second hangout session was conducted last November 20, 2022, while the service hours spent by the facilitators and freshmen were forwarded to the Office of Admission and Aid (OAA) on November 25, 2022.

During the midterms season last October 30-31, 2022, the SSG supported the freshmen scholars by conducting individual consultations (ICs) or kumustahan sessions held either on-site or online.

Aside from the hangout sessions, the “bucket list” activity composed of various ventures around the campus aims to strengthen the dynamics of the scholars. From small tasks, such as taking a picture with the Ateneo logo in Leong Hall, to challenging ones, such as giving a tour of the Ateneo Art Gallery, each completed task has a corresponding point.

The bucket list challenge lasted for a month and winners were declared based on the accumulated points. SSG 13 and SSG 32 won as the groups with the highest points for the challenge. SSG 13 was led by facilitator Lauren Nathalie Asica and was composed of freshmen scholars: Casey Clasara, Beatrix Mamañgun, Elica Saenz, Romina Kei Aguilar, Phoebe Angela Valle, and Patricia Uy. On the other hand, SSG 32 includes Ivy Joane Pulido, John Ivan Bajo, Bianca Alessandra Santiago, Anicia Margarita Alacar, Joie Frances Cheng, Anezka Kirzten Tan, John Lloyd Asis, and Maron Lei Majabague led by their SSG facilitator, Jericho Arjun Plomantes.

Just recently, the SSG held a plenary talk, Sama-samang Paghakbang: Minoring, Shifting, and Thriving, which invited upperclassmen speakers, Noel Nanas, Ambross Sumaylo, and Antoine Constantino. For the second semester, the SSG core team plans to conduct at least one hangout or snack-out every month for freshies and facilitators alike starting in February 2023.

The transition from high school to college takes work. It contains breakdowns, uncertainties, doubts, and even anxieties about whether one can fit into the new environment they are entering. Freshmen, especially scholars, may also feel overwhelmed and experience many episodes of impostor syndrome and think their spot as a scholar is something they got with pure luck. There are also worries about whether they can withstand the social hierarchy and the social and economic barriers in the university—but these uncertainties, doubts, and anxieties are all part of the journey to know themselves more as an Atenean and a scholar.

“The SSG project is a great tool to make the adjusting phase more bearable,” Project Head Riona Basco surmised.

She added, “[m]ost importantly, it helps to give freshmen scholars hope that they will soon fit in and that the anxieties they are experiencing will vanish as soon as they take a step and be themselves in the Ateneo.”

The Scholars’ Support Group will not be made possible if it were not for its core team: Project Heads Riona Basco and Raine Cinco; Facilitator Managers, Klei Borja, Niko Corpuz, Angelica De Leon, Renz Trovela, Julius Bercasio, and Valerie Palomo; Modules and Activities Angeline Braganza, Katrina Balingit, and Lizette Abibuag; Secretariats Ysa Pangilinan and Jana Ang; Logistics Roddane Salvilla and Ian Aragoza; Creatives Tin Pabua and Jaica Aguilar; and, Finance Officer Therese Mamaradlo.