Initiated at the University of the Philippines in June 2018 while working on a master’s degree in public administration, Maria Pilar Lorenzo is now a Ph.D. candidate at Ghent University's Centre for Higher Education Governance. She also holds a master's degree in international politics and an advanced master's degree in cultures and development studies from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Originally from Quezon City, Philippines, Maria has a strong sense of community and has been volunteering since an early age. From visits to orphanages and homes for the elderly to university cleanups, she maintains a busy community service schedule. “All in all, I am grateful for these experiences because they have taught me a lot that I think I will not learn elsewhere,” said Maria.
Maria is a full-time doctoral researcher at Ghent University and is fascinated with examining issues relating to higher education regionalization, governance and social inequities. She has been recognized by the Young Southeast Asia Leader's Initiative (YSEALI) as one of the 2021 Women Leaders in Southeast Asia for her work in the field of education.
Let’s get to know Maria!
What does Phi Kappa Phi membership mean to you?
Being part of the honor society is, to a certain extent, a validation of one’s achievements, which may have required lots of sacrifices and hard work on the part of the student. In my case, I joined Phi Kappa Phi during my graduate studies for my first master’s degree. My transition to graduate school happened after some years spent in non-governmental organizational work, and I must say the shift from development work to academic life was not that easy.
Who inspires you?
On top of my list of sources of inspiration are my parents. As I pick up more years, I have realized more and more that my parents are quite special. There are many inspiring people out there, but to me, I have not met any other people like my parents.
What is your favorite type of coffee/tea?
My favorite is bubble milk tea!
What was your favorite subject in school?
When I was in grade school, I remember I liked astronomy. I was fascinated by knowing things beyond planet Earth. Later in life, I particularly enjoyed my philosophy classes.
What is your favorite movie?
I really do not have a favorite movie but enjoyed Babeth’s Feast. Having an interest and a fascination toward arts, I think that movie is a treat and a tribute to all artists. Something is appealing in the way the movie demonstrates how great the passion of an artist could be. As a character in the movie says, “Give me a chance to do my very best.” I think that is powerful.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
The most exciting part of being a researcher is when a research question pops into my mind and eventually finding out that it has not yet been covered in the literature. I find it exhilarating to, at least, try contributing to the advancement of scholarship and science.
What is something you find challenging about your work?
As a researcher, the whole process of research can be quite daunting because we really do not know how the project will unfold. We may try to plan well, but to a certain extent, we do not know how the project will turn out. I guess that is what makes doing research exciting.
What is your most-used productivity hack?
I try starting a task as early as I can, and I do not check my phone nor surf the net unnecessarily when I am at the peak of my working hours.
What motivates you at work?
Doing something grander than myself is a crucial motivating factor for me. I try to do my research to the best of my ability because I want to contribute to a greater understanding of social issues, such as higher education regionalization. I am hopeful that relevant stakeholders in a position to introduce policies and initiate institutional changes will pick up the research I generate.
What is your least favorite chore around the house?
The funny thing is that I used to be a certified cook, but I do not enjoy cooking. I would rather read.
To learn more about Maria and connect, visit her profile within our online member community, here.
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