It is done.

After 5.5 years in graduate school – three years of full-time study (attending classes, writing papers, and doing the initial research and fieldwork for my thesis), two years in El Nido (some catch-up fieldwork, going back to full-time work because I ran out of scholarship money, writing my thesis in the evenings, and taking two months off work to hammer out the first complete draft of the thesis), and half a year back in MSI to finalize everything and actually defend my thesis – I finally earned my MS Marine Science, major in Marine Biology degree from the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines-Diliman last April 26, 2014. It’s the biggest accomplishment of my life to date.

2 MSI grads
Eight graduates from MSI! The awesomest professors on the right are Dr. Malou McGlone and Dr. Gil Jacinto (chemical oceanography)

05 cs medal
All graduate students get the College of Science medal. One of my mother’s gripes about my undergraduate graduation was that she didn’t get to go up on stage because I didn’t have any honors. So there Mom! You happy now? 😛 #AsianMoms

So… what happens next? Well, I’m hoping to work again in corporate social responsibility because I enjoyed it so much the first time around. Another option is diving headfirst into research. I was offered a spot on the Benham Rise survey team but had to turn it down because it would coincide with a previously planned trip to Japan (*sob*). In the meantime, I’m thoroughly enjoying being a science writer for GMA News Online. I love science and I love sharing science with people (YouTube videos anyone?), so what better way than to get involved in science media? But whatever happens next, bring it on!

The famous sunflowers of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.
The famous sunflowers of the University of the Philippines-Diliman.