Thai alumnus speaks on the importance of a strong int’l alumni network

A discussion focusing on UPLB’s international alumni on Oct. 7 sealed the five-part webinar series that was held in celebration of the 2020 Loyalty Day.

The webinar featured Dr. Weerapon Thongma, 2019 UPLB Outstanding Alumnus and a faculty-administrator at Maejo University, Thailand, who talked about sustaining the alliance between UPLB and its international alumni.

Dr. Thongma, who earned his PhD Extension from UPLB, highlighted the growth of the UPLB Alumni Association of Thailand, which he currently leads as its president, noting that its membership has expanded to over 200.

He stressed the importance of strong and open lines of communication between UPLB and its international alumni. This connection, he said, begins with engagement to its international students while they are still enrolled in the university, and this shall be maintained even after they graduated and became alumni.

Dr. Thongma advocated for personalized communication of UPLB to the alumni, such as giving them updates about the university. Engaging the alumni on the university’s projects and programs, he said, will encourage the former to give back to the university.

“If they (the alumni) are part of the planning, they will be the ones to see the need for funding or other items, and they, especially the older alumni, will donate the funding voluntarily,” Dr. Thongma stressed.

He also offered his vision for UPLBAA-Thailand, which was to develop each member into “professional in globalizing agriculture and society innovation network” – a vision which webinar reactor Dr. Maria Corazon “Kuku” Lopez of the Development Academy of the Philippines cast into a comprehensive framework for operationalization.

Like Dr. Thongma, Dr. Lopez is also a graduate of the College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf), where they were both previously awarded as outstanding college alumni.

Dr. Lopez identified the vision’s outcomes based on values as a “unified group of professionals who are leaders producing brilliant ideas towards relevant and responsive actions supported by the alumni association to achieve transformation.”

She also praised Dr. Thongma for his idea of “engaging the alumni before they become alumni” and cited studies that highlighted the importance of alumni relations in building one’s social identity and sense of belonging to a group.

Gracing the webinar was Dr. Jose V. Camacho Jr., dean of the Graduate School and incoming chancellor of UPLB, who assured support for stronger alumni relations with UPLB’s international and graduate alumni.

Joining Dr. Camacho was Rolando Bello, dean of CPAf and incoming vice chancellor for administration, who hosted the webinar that was organized by his college. The webinar was livestreamed on Zoom and YouTube.

The Loyalty Day webinar series, which ran from Sept. 23 to Oct. 7, talked about UPLB’s accomplishments; the experiences of a past national agriculture program; the bond of the university and its local alumni; and the possible partnership among UPLB, the Department of Agriculture, and the alumni. (Albert Geoffred B. Peralta)