Started from Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, SJ's vision of providing a welcoming environment for scholars within the Ateneo, Ateneo Gabay has been a support group for scholars of different backgrounds as they go through their college journey. Ateneo Gabay began from being an academics-centered group that helped tutor scholars who are under the pressure of retention grades to continue their scholarship.
Now in its 46th year, Ateneo Gabay continues to provide a home that serves the scholar sector within the bigger community of the Loyola Schools (LS). From a purely academic nature, Gabay has also been establishing and implementing projects that support the psychosocial adjustment of scholars. Not only does Gabay enhance the academic potential of scholars, but also makes the scholars feel that they belong in the Ateneo.
Gabay truly has a significant responsibility on its shoulders because they serve the entire scholar sector, which comprises one out of every five Loyola Schools students. But the organization is not alone in fulfilling its advocacy; the Office of Admission and Aid (OAA) has long served as its mutual partner in promoting the welfare and development of the scholar community. And now that the Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila (Sanggunian) has recently elected its Scholar Sector Representative, the LS community shall see holistic efforts to advance the interests of the scholars in various initiatives and administrative matters in the Ateneo.
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the Philippines' entire education sector to continue learning despite the limitations set by the distance learning setup. The LS scholar community was not spared from the numerous setbacks that the online setting introduced. While the OAA has been steadfast in attending to the needs of the scholars in terms of logistics (e.g. organizing the lending personal computers and laptops used on campus) and finances (e.g. shouldering students' costs on acquiring laboratory-at-home kits and materials), Ateneo Gabay has also lived up to its advocacy of providing a home that scholars can turn to despite not being able to meet in flesh. Ateneo Gabay has also adapted its services so that it can still provide the quality services that scholars receive during onsite classes in the online setting.
As Ateneo de Manila ventures into another year of distance learning, Ateneo Gabay remains true to its advocacy of providing opportunities for quality education for the scholars' sector. And this commitment will not waver especially in a time when the scholars need us more. And as long as there is even only a single scholar in the Loyola Schools, Ateneo Gabay's mission still stands.
The Academics Committee is considered to be the oldest among the four committees in Ateneo Gabay because its essence can be dated up to when the organization started. The committee fulfills its mandate of enhancing the academic potential of the scholars through their Academic Services. Below are the services that the Academics Committee had long provided before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AGAP Tutoring was a tutorial service in which interested scholars or members of Ateneo Gabay served as tutors to provide academic assistance to those who would need it. Different learning areas were offered under this service, including Mathematics, the Natural Sciences like Physics and Chemistry, Accounting, Finance, and Economics. Prices for this service were usually lowered to cater to scholars who do not have the financial capacity to afford more expensive tutorial services from other LS organizations.
Short Term and Long Term Book Lending
For scholars who do not have the financial capacity to purchase required books for their classes, Ateneo Gabay provided a library of books and materials that can be rented for a short-term (i.e., one day, one week) or long-term (i.e., one whole semester) period. Books that were available for lending were required textbooks for various courses, Bibles for Theology classes, and English and Filipino dictionaries for English and Filipino classes, respectively.
Sample Long Exam (SLEx) Database
For scholars preparing for major exams, Ateneo Gabay provided a repository of past long exams, which were compiled with the help of the members of Gabay who were able to give questionnaires and answer sheets to long exams they had taken years ago.
Now that Ateneo fully conducts its classes online. The Book Lending services were parked indefinitely due to the books being stuck inside the Gabay Room on campus. What remained were the AGAP Tutoring and the SLEx Database that are consolidated under one mega-service of the Academics Committee for the online setting: the Studybuddy.
Studybuddy is Ateneo's very first social networking site for academics. It is an anonymous online forum where students can discuss every Atenean subject, access a database of 600+ long exams, earn money for giving quality answers, and connect with volunteer tutors. Founded by Ateneo Gabay's Academics Committee, the project was originally exclusive to Atenean scholars but has since been expanded to service the entire Ateneo community. Here, one can see how AGAP Tutoring and the SLEx Database were translated into the online setting, which another forum service wherein LS students can discuss answers to different questions in a fashion similar to the Stack Exchange Website.
Studybuddy also has affiliate initiatives called Studybuddy Bits and Studybuddy Stories. Studybuddy Bits is an initiative that brings students study tips, life hacks, and other cool tidbits that will help them learn in the online setup. Meanwhile, Studybuddy Stories is for sharing stories of personal academic success, with the hopes of motivating other students to excel in the current environment of online learning.
Aside from services, the Academics Committee also has its sole Academic Event catered to scholars: the Salubong (formerly known as Neofight).
Salubong (formerly known as Neofight)
During onsite classes, Neofight was a half-day or whole-day welcoming event for LS scholars. The event are jam-packed with series of short talks and messages from professors, fellow scholars, and scholar alumni about some tips and advices in adjusting into the Ateneo community as a scholar. But to introduce the warm and energetic culture of the scholars community, the event also features ice breakers, games, and activities that would make the scholars feel welcomed into the scholar community. The freshmen scholars who are participating in the event are accompanied by their group facilitator, which will turn out to be Scholars' Support Group (SSG) Facilitator for the rest of their freshman year. More on the SSG on the following section about the Scholars' Adjustment Committee.
During the online set-up, Neofight was rebranded into Salubong, which still followed the familiar format of Neofight, except that the whole day's worth of activities was scattered into three days (with a three-hour engagement per day, whether synchronous or asynchronous) to prevent Zoom fatigue and mental exhaustion from staring at a screen for extended periods of time.
While the Academics Committee enhances the academic potential of scholars, the Scholars' Adjustment Committee serves as the forefronts for initiatives that facilitate the psychosocial adjustment of scholars in the Ateneo community. Ateneo Gabay believes that opportunities for quality education can not only be achieved through academics but also on how students mobilize themselves within the community where they learn - whether by forging friendships or making sure that their well-being is taken care of.
Below are the services that the Scholars' Adjustment Committee of Ateneo Gabay caters to the scholars.
Scholars' Support Group
The Scholars' Support Group (SSG) serves as a starting point for scholars to meet fellow scholars and journey with one another throughout their freshman year in the Ateneo. They are guided by an SSG Facilitator who serves as their ate/kuya or mentor in the Ateneo. The SSG as a project comprises of different synchronous and asynchronous hangout sessions per SSG and plenary sessions that cover various topics on scholars' student life such as joining student organizations, bringing out the leader in the students, and dealing with academic setbacks and failures. All of these are done in a warm and friendly environment to encourage the freshmen scholars to open up and establish genuine and lasting friendships with one another.
Gabby the Scholar
Gabby the Scholar is a virtual scholar platform that is humanized as an online scholar buddy that will help scholars be informed about important announcements, information, features, and even motivational messages that would concern them or help them in their college journey in the Ateneo. Alongside Gabby the Scholar is a project called Kuwentong Scholar (KS). KS features stories from different scholars in order to motivate fellow scholars into traversing their college life in the Ateneo. Kuwentong Scholar features could be in a form of comic strips or video features that would capture the attention of the scholar community and even page viewers outside the Ateneo that could use some motivations as well.
Aside from services, events are also conducted for scholars to feel the camaraderie among other scholars and celebrate the gift of scholarship as a call for service.
Ateneo Scholars' Week
The Ateneo Scholars' Week is a week-long celebration for scholars that features various activities for them to appreciate the gift of scholarship and celebrate their identity as scholars in the Ateneo. The following are sub-events that contribute to the overall success of the Scholars' Week
- Scholars' Mass - Scholars' Mass is a Eucharistic Celebration for Catholic scholars to give praise and thanksgiving to God for the gift of scholarship that they have received.
- Scholars' Speak - Scholars' Speak is a Spotify podcast designed for Ateneans to listen to casual discussions of scholar students and alumni as they talk about their life as a scholar in the Ateneo.
- Scholars' 101 - Scholars' 101 is a series of talks that aim to give a deeper perspective on what it means to be a scholar and what is in it for them. This event would gear towards understanding that the gift of scholarship is a call to serve and to be aware of the bigger situation that the society is facing with respect to access to quality education.
- Scholars' Fundraiser - Scholars' Fundraiser is a fundraising event happening during Scholars' Week that aims to help a certain beneficiary in the education sector.
- Scholars' Got Talent - Scholars' Got Talent serves as the culminating activity for Scholars' Week wherein different scholars showcase their talents in visual and performing arts. This event shows that scholars are not only confined to academics but are also capable to excel in other diverse aspects as well.