TRADITIONAL Thomasian onboarding activities, akin to those in UST Manila, are scheduled to welcome the first group of students at UST General Santos City (GenSan) as it prepares for its first academic year in August.

Professor Emeritus Maribel Nonato, the assistant to the rector for UST GenSan, said implementing these familiar onboarding activities at the branch campus demonstrates UST’s dedication to extending “Thomasian education” to the southern region.

“Students at (GenSan) should not feel that they are less than the students in Manila,” Nonato told the Varsitarian. “[Kung] ano ‘yung mga puwede naming ibigay sa kanila, ibibigay namin.”

“It’s also one way for us to show that you don’t have to come here in Manila to experience Thomasian education, to experience the Thomasian activities, the traditions that we often provide our students here,” she added.

UST GenSan has scheduled a special UST Entrance Test at its campus on May 25 to select the first batch of students for the Mindanao campus.

Freshmen onboarding activities at UST Manila include the Thomasian Welcome Mass, ROARientation, Thomasian Welcome Walk, and the Thomasian Welcome Concert.

These activities are designed to help incoming students “get acquainted with the University’s context and culture,” according to the Office of the Secretary General. 

Nonato said UST GenSan officials were holding discussions on how to conduct the Thomasian Welcome Walk at the Mindanao campus.

This rite typically involves freshmen passing through the historic Arch of the Centuries to symbolize the beginning of their journey at UST. 

During an alumni event in UST GenSan’s inauguration week, UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P., announced plans for an “Arch of the New Century” to be built at UST GenSan, aiming to differentiate it from the entrance of the original UST campus in Intramuros that was transported stone by stone to Sampaloc and inaugurated as a triumphal arch in 1954.

Nonato also said officials considered the incorporation of Mindanaoan culture into the planning of freshmen activities to contextualize the Thomasian onboarding activities for the students in UST GenSan.

“[Sa UST Manila], marami kang magagawa na activities kasi naka-lay down na lahat diyan, may template na,” she said. “[Sa UST GenSan], gagawin namin in such a way na ico-contextualize namin kasi syempre iba rin ang kultura ng mga tao sa Mindanao.”

In addition to the onboarding activities, UST in Manila traditionally begins the academic year with the Mass of the Holy Spirit, known as Misa de Apertura, and the Inaugural Lecture, or Discurso de Apertura.

Nonato said students at UST GenSan would be asked to attend the Discurso de Apertura in UST Manila via a remote setup, as the branch campus has not yet chosen an inaugural lecture speaker from its new academic staff. 

Officials were still exploring how UST GenSan could organize other campus-wide events like the Paskuhan festivities, she said.

“Although they are on a different campus, they will not be treated like second-class type students na iba ‘yung activities, [na] ito-tone down namin,” she said. 

More than 400 freshmen students are expected to enroll in UST GenSan for its first academic year, during which five programs will be offered: BS Accounting Information System, BS Entrepreneurship, BS Industrial Engineering, BS Medical Technology, and BS Pharmacy.


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