Filipino-Canadian university students mentored by UPAAT professionals

By : Ernesto “Chito” Villarroya



More than 20 enthusiastic Filipino Canadian scholars from various universities in the GTA engaged with UPAAT members from various professional fields on February 24 at the Speed Mentoring event organized by the UPAAT Education and Awareness Committee (EAC).



Sticking to the Career Plan


The event was designed to coach the students in their respective careers by mentors appropriately selected by the committee for their respective fields. It was a night to kickstart career dreams into reality with the valuable insights shared by mentors which was highlighted by the talk given by Guest Speaker Mary-Ann Gamboa-Allain. Mary Ann shared how she adhered to a 10-Year Career Plan, a system she encouraged the students to formulate for themselves. She did not waver from her career plan despite challenges presented as a then single mother by choice and pursuing career advancement in an industry where leadership roles were dominated by men. Through her hard work, tenacity, and courage to persevere in the most difficult circumstances, she succeeded to achieve her goal.


Mary-Ann is the current Director of Sales and Marketing of The Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. She is the first woman Director of Sales and Marketing at her company. She is a Filipina-Canadian.


Guest Speaker Mary-Ann Gamboa-Allain inspiring participants


Three rounds of mentoring


The event opened with EAC Chair Mayrose Salvador and the Filipino Students Association of Toronto (FSAT) officers giving an outline of the evening’s program. UPAAT President Agnes Manasan gave a welcome speech which highlighted UPAAT’s commitment as an organization to be a resource in mentorship and more importantly, networking.


For the first engagement, the students were paired off with assigned mentors into breakout rooms for a more in-depth discussion of their career plans with realistic inputs from the mentors focusing on real life experience and expectations. The students then rotated to another breakout room to further benefit from candid discussions with another chosen mentor. As the night progressed, a rotation was done for the third and last time. This system allowed the event to expose as many students to as many mentors as possible. The amount of time in each breakout session was carefully planned and followed. It was evident that the participants had fruitful interactions as most of them expressed that they wanted longer time in the breakout group discussions.


During the Question and Answer session, there was high energy and expectations among the attendees who were significantly heightened with some very relevant questions related to navigating a career path.


The students were inspired. I was inspired.


Mentors and mentees gaining valuable insights at the networking event


As I was an invited observer and as someone to report about the event, I could not resist acting as an unofficial contributor to the discussions, in short, sharing what I thought was relevant in their careers. What drove me to do that was listening to the stories where some participants may have one or many more career pathways to choose and consider, not unlike what I felt when I graduated from UP Diliman. Life was still ahead with many possibilities and choices. I felt that again 50 years forward, on this evening, when I listened to these young Filipino-Canadians.

I am thankful to have been invited by Mayrose to this valuable event.

I wish to end this piece with a simple message to our UPAAT members: Be a Mentor. Be Inspiring to our youth. It is a great feeling.

We express our gratitude to the mentors: Dr. Ramil Noche, Prof. Ruby Sullan, Divine Briones, Atty. Luther D. Ramos, Mary Ann Garo-Santiago, Dr. Criselda Cruz, Diana Roldan, Carla Faigmane, and Elle Ong.