Hello, everyone! I’m Maria Regina Grace D. Katigbak, often referred to as Reggy, a Global UGRAD alumna from the Philippines. I had my exchange program at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) in the Spring of 2020. Since coming home from the US, I graduated from my home university (University of the Philippines –Los Baños) with Latin Honors and have been focused on managing my micro bakery since then.
Because of the pandemic, my stay in the US was cut short. Despite this, I can definitely say that in a span of two and half months, I have formed and gained meaningful relationships, unforgettable experiences, and invaluable lessons about leadership and service that will forever be printed on my mind.
In this article, I’d like to focus on my insights regarding leadership. Being a scholar meant we would have comfortable lives in the U.S. With every basic necessity financed, we were free to take charge and create our own story. Given this freedom, I asked myself, what should we do with it? We can do anything as long as we comply with our requirements, really. But is that the only thing we can do? That’s when I realized that we were given this amazing opportunity not only to further ourselves academically but to also exercise our skills in leadership. In the U.S., there were many avenues to help and volunteer: in soup kitchens, museums, animal shelters, etc. As this was one of the most accessible ways people can give back to their community, I was immersed in a diverse set of people united under one goal–to be of service to others. From then I knew that the spirit of volunteerism and the heart for service was something I wanted to carry with me even after the program. As a UGRAD, I realized that leadership is about taking opportunities to give back to the community.
In the end, I believe the best way to encapsulate our UGRAD experience is for us to embody the things we have learned and the knowledge we have gained. In my case, learning about leadership and giving back really helped me put things in perspective. This experience taught me that no matter where you stand in life, you can be a leader and spark change by simply having the heart for service to others. There are many opportunities for us to use our skills and to give back to our community, even in the simplest of ways. As a young entrepreneur, my dream is to grow my micro bakery here in my country, but beyond that, I’d like to use it as a means to give back as well. I believe that my Global UGRAD experience helped me create a version of myself with a greater purpose–to not just be an entrepreneur, but an entrepreneur for the people.