Agri Topnotcher 2023

Our newest topnotcher in the agriculture boards lost his father at the early age of 8 years old. With three siblings, his mother took different jobs including being a house helper and a farmer to ensure there is food on the table.

This is the story of Mr. Mark Anthony E. Mata, a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSA) program of the Visayas State University Main Campus in 2023 with a major in Plant Protection and a thesis specialization in Plant Pathology.

Their family transferred to Cabucgayan, Biliran from Bohol when Mark’s father passed away in 2010. Since then, his grandparents and his aunties have supported their beleaguered family with their daily needs, which included sending him and his siblings to school. 

Without the help of his mother’s family and a full scholarship from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Mark said that he would not have been able to survive college.

Before starting his VSU journey, he completed his junior high school at Cabucgayan National School of Arts and Trades (CNSAT) before transferring to the Naval School of Fisheries (NSF) in Naval, Biliran with his auntie helping him financially to complete senior high school.

Before coming to VSU, his original plan was to pursue medical technology. However, because his family's disposition cannot provide for this dream, he settled to study in VSU thinking that he would enroll in the chemistry program. 

But upon enrollment, he learned from fellow incoming students that pursuing chemistry would put his scholarship in danger because of its perceived difficulty so he redirected his plan again and finally enrolled in the BSA program.

Through time, he also learned that agriculture as a field is never easy and that he later fell in love with it, especially that his passion to help poor farmers was ignited by the many major classes he took at VSU.

“Makaingon ko Sir nga wala jud to sa plano ang agriculture sa una para nako. Pero nahadlok man ko nga di maka-maintain sa ako DOST scholarship mao tong nibalhin ko kay sayon lagi daw ang BSA. Unya kadugayan na-realize nako nga dili man diay ingon ana kasayon pero tungod sad niana I learned how to slowly appreciate the program and later on fall in love with it kay natuboan ko’g passion para sa mga pobre nga mag-uuma,” he recalled.

[I can say that in the beginning, it wasn’t part of the original plan to pursue agriculture for me. My concern was to maintain my DOST scholarship because it’s the only way I can survive college that’s why I transferred to the BSA program. Through time, I realized that what I heard wasn’t true at all but because it was a quite challenging course, I learned how to slowly appreciate the program and later on fall in love with it, especially that my passion to help poor and marginalized farmers were ignited there in VSU.]

Topping the board was like the Lord’s sign for him that his frustration of not pursuing his dream career was a redirection for an even better path in the future.

Because of his personal intent to perform well in the board exam, he took a review class administered by the University Review Center (URC) at VSU while also subscribing to a private online review class. For him, after reviewing different test questions from 2 review centers, he found out that the fundamental courses that he took at VSU were the most important lessons to prepare for in a board examination.

“I think I reviewed and compared approximately 15,000 plus review questions and I believe that a lot of them did not appear in the actual board exam. This made me very anxious because I had to rely heavily on the fundamental courses that I took in my freshmen and sophomore years. Honestly, that strong background in basic courses that I took in VSU is the main aspect that helped me ace the boards.”

Now that he graduated from college and has successfully earned his license, Mark is still torn between pursuing an immediate research career that is currently being offered to him by VSU or doing his master’s degree and trying his luck abroad.

“My former mentors in the department advised me to immediately apply for graduate scholarships abroad. There is an offer for me to do research work in VSU. I still don’t know what to do now but what is important for me is that my mom assured me that I should pursue things that would make me happy and grow professionally rather than focusing on providing for the needs of my family.”

For him, this assurance made him more eager to pursue a career that will make him grow as a young professional while also earning money that he can use in helping his sister who is currently pursuing a nursing degree in another university.

One of his long term goals is to build a demonstration farm in his hometown that can be a showcase of sustainable agricultural practices and eco-friendly initiatives that will apply Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approaches that utilizes current and comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment.

“I wanted to use our family farms and test the applicability of several eco-friendly approaches like the IPM so that we can make farming sustainable. And I want to do this as my form of contributing to my community and teach other farmers about the many advantages of this kind of farming technique.”

Mark is part of the 117 #ProudViscans who passed the newly renamed Agriculturists Licensure Examination (ALE). 

In this board exam, VSU ranked 6th among 276 universities and colleges in the Philippines that offer agriculture as an undergraduate program. VSU obtained an overall institutional passing of 52.94% versus the national passing average of 34.18%.

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) announced that this year, a total of 3,423 out of 10,014 passed this particular board exam administered by the Board of Agriculture in 19 testing centers all over the country.

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