Dugong Arriba: A Peek into Miss Jill’s Letran Journey

By: Samantha Bernardo, Diane Angeli Martinez
September 09, 2023

Photograph by Eduardo Nollora Jr. & Artwork by Vince Allen Atienza of The LANCE.

The staff is an essential part of an institution as they cater to the needs and concerns of the students, the same applies within the historic walls of Letran. 

The Department of Student Affairs (DSA) mainly handles the various concerns of the students. Former Student Development Coordinator (SDC) Ms. Jillian Nathalie Garcia is one of the forefront staff inside the office of the DSA as she served the institution as early as she started her college life inside the Colegio. 

As a Letranite through and through, Ms. Jill started studying AB Communication in Letran in 2011. While studying, she was also a student assistant in the Media Center, catering to her fellow students’ concerns about their IDs and such. 

In April 2015, she graduated and applied to a production house in Makati along with her classmates. However, a fresh graduate's life will never be easy as she experienced it firsthand at the production house as an Account Executive. 

She shared the following sentiment saying, “Kapag magaling ka, dadagdagan yung tasks mo pero yung sweldo mo ganun pa rin,” about how she went AWOL (absent without leave) after two weeks  when she knew that her salary is 350 pesos per day. 

Ms. Jill felt disappointed and left with the thought, “Lugi ako. I gave my all tapos 350 per day, hindi man lang minimum wage.” Nevertheless, it was truly a blessing when she got a call two months after from someone she knew dearly in Letran.

Ms. Jhennie Cladito-Villar, DBA, the current Directress of the Alumni and Public Relations Department (APRD), contacted her and offered her a vacant job in Letran. In the same year, she was designated to the DSA and was truthfully shocked and nervous as Ms. Catherine Sanchez was already the Directress during that time. 

She shared how scared she was of Ma’am Cathy before. She recounted when she was still studying, students depicted her as “terror” and “strict”. She opened up about how she was not confident at that time, saying, “Ano bang alam ko sa Student Affairs,” revealing it took her three years to adjust to her work, and felt that she only went to work to comply.

Nevertheless, from 2015 to 2023, she stayed for her goal to see to it that the events that the students are applying for are being pushed through or approved. She shared it was fulfilling for her to deliver good news for the students on their events application. She felt more and one with the students, knowing they took their time applying for their events.

“It’s the students who made me stay in Letran,” Ms. Jill added.

As she left the position as the Student Development Coordinator for eight years, she talked about how she would miss everything, especially the warmth she felt for the past years. Maximum tolerance, patience, understanding, and gratitude are the things that she learned during her stay. 

She described her journey as a “rollercoaster of events” and felt like her time management skills and priorities were sharpened in handling the various Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) in Letran. 

She left a message for the current Student Development Coordinator, Ms. Franchesca Mangalindan, saying “I believe si Ma’am Chesca kayang-kaya niyang gawin yung pag-aalaga and pag-seserve ko sa mga RSOs.” She also disclosed Ms. Chesca is doing good and would reach out to her from time to time regarding her queries on handling the RSOs. 

When asked about her future plans, she said she would focus more on her family and motherhood, finish her Graduate School also in Letran, and pursue teaching in Letran if it does open its doors for her. 

Miss Jill, indeed, has left a mark in the hearts of RSOs and in the DSA office itself. As her parting message to the students, coworkers, and the Letran Community, she stated “It’s not goodbye, it’s just see you around kasi papasok pa rin naman ako every Saturday. Ayun, dugong Arriba pa rin.” 

Keen on keeping close contact, she explained is not the type to cut off something that made her happy. Ms. Jill, as of now, is part of DSA’s management staff and is an MBA student of Letran. Indeed, “Once a Letranite, Always a Letranite”.