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Youth in STEM

Bridging the gap between STEM and Filipinos with Recca Lujan


Even at a young age, Recca was already given the opportunity to explore the field of science through class experiments, and by enrolling in a Science High School and volunteering for the “Tulong Dunong” program, where she is greatly remembered and recognized by young students.

Let’s hear more about what sparked her interest in STEM as well as her advocacies in the field!

My STEM Journey

I can say I owe most of my STEM journey to Pisay as I was surrounded with opportunities in an environment where the people had aligned interests. In my first two years I was part of our school’s science club and was able to attend events of the Philippine Society of Youth Science Clubs (PSYSC), the organization I would be serving later in my college years. One highlight of my high school life that directed me to pursue a laboratory oriented career was our Summer Internship Program when I interned for a month at the Institute of Food Science and Technology in UP Los Banos. During our specialization years in senior high I chose to focus on Biology and Chemistry. This eventually brought me to where I am today, an incoming senior in the Biochemistry program of UP Manila. As much as I love my time in the lab (back when F2F was possible), I equally love working with my organizations, the UP Biochemistry Society and PSYSC. Currently I am interning at the Philippine Genome Center’s Core Facility for Bioinformatics. Upon graduation I plan on taking up research assistant positions as well as taking the Chemistry Licensure Examination. I hope to eventually do my Masters abroad and come back to the Philippines to finish my Return Service Agreement with DOST.

Sparking my interest in STEM

It was really in my specialization years that had brought me close to the fields of Biology and Chemistry. To be honest, most of my high school life I had my mind set on applying for the Molecular Biology and Biotechnology program in UP Diliman. During senior high however, I had found myself being drawn closer to Chemistry as we would always do experiments in the lab. It was always during lab work that I had felt the most comfortable because I loved hands on interactive learning. It was only when I was filling up my UPCAT application form that I found out the UP System also offered Biochemistry. I applied to the degree thinking it would be 50% Biology, 50% Chemistry. This belief was also held by a lot of my blockmates, to which we quickly learned in our first college days that it would be about 90% Chemistry and only 10% Biology. I don’t have any regrets with my degree though as I learned more about what it was and what our graduates were doing, I had felt more and more at home and that this is what I want to be pursuing. 

Taken last 2019 in Batangas during the National Youth Science, Technology, and Environment Summer Camp.

Bringing STEM closer to Filipinos

After evaluating what I had been doing for the past years, I found a pattern that led me to realize all along I was actually unconsciously advocating for making science accessible and for the masses. Our organization’s thrust is PUS TE (Public Understanding of Science, Technology, and the Environment) and likewise I think we should always push for information, education, and communication of STEM, especially to those who aren’t as exposed to it. I think this particularly relevant given the pandemic as talks of RT-PCR, mRNA vaccines, and the like may seem like common topics to those in the scientific community but may seem foreign to others. It is especially critical to keep everyone knowledgeable as we rely on making informed decisions in taking collective action against a public health threat. As fun as it may be to be involved with the high technology aspect of science, we should keep in mind that science is for the masses and that it can still be understood and appreciated without needing an extensive scientific background. Being lucky enough to be surrounded by individuals inclined in STEM, sometimes it makes you forget that a good chunk of the population is not the same, likely due to the lack of opportunities and resources. As I’ve mentioned, Pisay had a large contribution on my STEM journey but actually a large selling point I had entering Pisay was the free tuition and allowance since at the time of my admission my family wasn’t as well off financially as we are now. 

Taken last 2019 in Zamboanga City during the National Science Club Month Region 9 Summit.

I think in terms of awareness and action, surely there has been progress but not as much progress as one would hope to have. A major change I’d like to see is making primary and secondary education more accessible as these are the crucial years in one’s development. I also think on ground action should be emphasized as social media campaigns could only do so much and could only reach those with devices and internet connection. 


To my fellow youth

Be steadfast in what you’re pursuing. Remember why you want to do what you’re doing and who you are doing it for. Lastly, be kind to yourself and remember that you’re human and not just a machine.