Ea Kristine B. Tulin

“In whatever you do, always take the Philippines with you.”

This was Ms. Ea Kristine Clarisse Tulin’s main message to inspire the 101 graduates of the Visayas State University Integrated High School (VSU-IHS).

VSU-IHS held its 4th Graduation Ceremony on August 6, 2021 streamed live in VSU’s official Facebook page. This is also the second virtual graduation ceremony held by the school.

Ms. Tulin is an achiever in her own rights. She was VSU-IHS Class Valedictorian in 2011. Four years later, she also was the Class Valedictorian of VSU Class of 2016 earning a degree in chemistry, Magna Cum Laude.

She was also the winner of the Eastern Visayas regional search for the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) making her a national finalist of the said competition.

Presently, Ms. Tulin is connected to the newly-created VSU Department of Biotechnology (DBt) as Instructor. She obtained her master’s degree in environmental and agricultural science from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT).

Immediately after completing her master’s degree, she became a recipient of a prestigious Japanese scholarship called MEXT that allowed her to pursue her doctoral degree major in biological chemistry from TUAT.

Ms. Tulin is currently finishing her PhD with her research interests focused on biochemistry, glycobiology and molecular neuroscience.

On the sides, the guest speaker also embarked on pursuing a personal passion project called Experiments in Art (EA) where she creatively presents the colorful world of histology.

Recently, some of her works were exhibited in two art shows held in Tokyo, Japan in December 2020 and March 2021 respectively. She is also set to do another exhibit later this year.

In her commencement talk, she highlighted five tips that summarized her decade-long journey in the academe.

First, Ms. Tulin emphasized that one cannot plan life perfectly in which she shared how her life also did not unfold the way she planned it to be.

“I am very happy with how my journey has turned out so far. My plans didn't happen because the universe had something better for me, God had something better for me–something I could not have planned for myself. So don't stress if things don't happen the way you want them to, it means something better is coming for you.”

Second, Ms. Tulin argued that talent is nothing without good character and hard work.

“You probably heard this before, but I want to emphasize that no matter how talented you are, if you just keep it to yourself and don't put in the hard work, if you're not willing to build relationships, the opportunity will go to someone willing to put in the work.”

Third on her list was the importance of building connections and good relationships with your expanding circle.

“These 10 years, I can say that the relationships I built with people, may it be family, friends, or workmates, are among my greatest strengths. My mentors in college inspired me to be hardworking and compassionate. I was not swayed by the negativity of those who would put me down because I had a strong support system, and I found mentors that I could trust and treat as friends.”

In which she added that her previous professors helped her in preparing for the very stringent selection process of her MEXT scholarship.

Ms. Tulin’s journey in applying for graduate school shaped the fourth thing on her list—that is, being grateful for everything and not feeling entitled to anything.

“Be grateful for the bad because these are the greatest teachers in life. I know everyone has said it before but don’t be afraid to fail. If you look at failure as an opportunity to learn, it will make a large difference on your enthusiasm, confidence, and grit. Know that the state of not knowing is never permanent, and each time you move forward, you are one step towards reaching your goals.”

This mindset became her strength in conquering over failures and in arising to what others see as a dead-end. According to her, the rejections she experienced propelled her towards her initial success.

“I took the exam for Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UP Diliman, so I can move to the big city but I did not pass the test. I wasn't ready yet when I was 15, but VSU molded me to discover my strengths and to prepare myself for the world. It gave me the best training I could've asked for. That same test that I didn't pass when I just graduated high school? It became my major now for my Ph.D.”

Completing her five tips is about investing in self love which for her is very important in building one’s self-esteem.

“Don't be afraid to choose yourself. Invest in your dreams, and when you think that nobody is there to believe in you, all the more that you must believe in yourself, as fiercely as you can. If you feel like you don't belong then maybe it's because you are meant to start something new. Find role models and absorb their best traits to tailor-fit your dreams. And to the women here graduating, take it from Beyoncé when she said that if they don't invite you to the table then build your own table and invite the best people to take a seat with you.”

Because of her outstanding work in both science and the arts, Ms. Tulin is starting to be noticed by the media.

She was recently featured in Women’s Democratic Journal in Japan including in other publications like Women Doing Science, Pinoy Scientist, and the September 2020 issue of Pinays can STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

She was also invited as a panelist on Women in Neuroscience in Art (WiN in art). This US based organization is founded by a Filipina neuroscientist.

As a young scientist and as a budding artist interweaving these two disciplines, Ms. Tulin has never forgotten to represent her country well in all the things she does.

She concluded her message by encouraging the graduates to carry the Philippine flag with pride and honor.

“As early as now, when you craft your future for yourself, don't forget to include the Philippines in your dreams. Use your voice, ideas, and your talent to help move our country forward. It's not enough to just be a voice. What we need are actions, and if you feel like there's little you can do right now, then use this time to develop yourself to help you fight the battles you believe are important, for you and the country. Study, start from the bottom and work your way to the top. Collectively, there is always something we can do for the Philippines.”

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