Youth in STEM

Shaping a sustainable future with Sam Cayona

Sam’s journey and fascination with the sciences started in high school when she enrolled in the Science Curriculum of Kidapawan City National High School. In Grade 10, she and her team utilized waste materials to make ethyl alcohol, and invested in making wastepaper and corn cob useful again.  

Let’s hear more about what sparked here interest in STEM as well as her advocacies in the field! 

My STEM Journey

I was fortunate to continue studying STEM in senior high school through a scholarship from Ateneo de Davao, granting me free education. This opportunity continued in college paired with another scholarship grant from the Department of Science and Technology to aid me with all expenses in the university. Without these scholarships, I would not be able to sustain my education in college and continue my STEM journey. I enrolled to Environmental Science program of Ateneo de Davao as suggested by my mother and friends but my interest with the course grew and my advocacy for environmental action developed. 

Sparking my interest in STEM

My interest in Environmental Science started when my mother and friends convinced me to enroll in this course, given its relevance to current climate realities and local concerns. I was not sure what to pursue at the time, so I was easily convinced to follow their suggestion. However, my interest further developed few weeks into the program. I was disturbed that environmental issues are not discussed as often as they should be, considering their impact on human lives and our future. I was alarmed about environmental issues and realized the significance of greater involvement in this field because of the urgent need to provide solutions to local and global ecological problems.  

In addition, in Environmental Science, we are not bound to explore natural sciences alone like chemistry and biology. Instead, we are challenged to link our core studies to social sciences and current realities that concern our society. Our chemistry, biology, and mathematics subjects became more meaningful as they were utilized to understand climate realities that threaten our safety and future. The sociopolitical factors are added to the mix, which I’m also very interested in exploring, mainly because of my student leadership involvement that grew in college and my fondness for politics and policy-making. 

Bringing STEM closer to Filipinos

I am an advocate for environmental protection and sustainable development. This advocacy started in college when I enrolled in my current course, which led me to realize that my dreams and the dreams of others for the future will never be possible without livable earth. Therefore, we must find the balance between development and environmental action and protection. 

There is progress in this advocacy as many people are drawn to converse about different issues and participate in endeavors aligned to them. There is a rise in the availability of online opportunities for environmental problems. Social media has aided the improvement of awareness. However, there are fewer opportunities to immerse physically with communities to conduct activities like tree growing and clean-up drives due to the pandemic. While I believe that there is progress, it is still a reality that engaging and connecting to people who have no easy access to online platforms are necessary to ensure that awareness is not limited to those who have resources. 

To my fellow youth

To my fellow youth in STEM, now is the time to be on the lead in spreading awareness about issues deeply rooted in STEM. Maximize the capacity of social media but let us remember to expand awareness, especially to those not present on the web, starting to those nearest to us – our families and friends. STEM can offer so much to alleviate poverty and solve perennial problems in society, but this would take courage and hard work from us, the youth in STEM. Take heart, and may the wonders of STEM and the social realities disturb and inspire us to seek a greater purpose for the Filipino people.  

I hope that we dedicate our expertise and efforts to helping this country rise and giving urgent solutions to problems that threaten our future, especially to those linked to our environment. To all women in STEM, padayon!