By: Annie Grail Ekid
Mark Preston S. Lopez was recognized as a recipient of two (2) prestigious awards being given annually by the University of Florida (UF) to excellent international graduate students. Lopez was awarded the International Student Certificate of Excellence of the College of Education and was also conferred the University of Florida International Center Alec Courtelis Award during the International Students’ Week awarding ceremony held on November 14, 2018 at the President’s Ballroom, Emerson Alumni Hall in UF. He received a $1,500 worth of scholarship, a plaque and a certificate.
Earlier in September, he was chosen as one of the recipients of the International Student Certificate of Excellence of the College of Education (COE) following the nominations from his academic advisor and professors for his outstanding academic achievement, commitment to service and leadership that are not only integral to the success of the College but more importantly to his advancement as a student and scholar. Lopez is also currently serving as the President of the Student Alliance of Graduates in Education (SAGE), a college-based organization of graduate students which advances the personal and professional development of graduate students through academic- and non-academic activities. Last April 2018, he was also won the best paper award in the COE research symposium for his study on the implementation of the national language policy on mother tongue-based multilingual education in Mountain Province, which was in collaboration with Dr. Annie Grail Ekid, MPSPC VPRDE and his academic advisor, Dr. Maria Coady.
Following his feat, the College of Education nominated him to the prestigious Alec Courtelis Award, a university-wide competition that recognizes international students who not only meet exemplary academic achievement, but also a wide range of accomplishments and contributions to the university. A board of reviewers reviewed fourteen (14) nominations from across the university. Based on his nomination, Lopez won second place on account of the following achievements: (a) exemplary academic achievement with straight As; (b) exceptional scholarly research activity as evidenced by his recent scholarly publications in academic journals, significant research presentations in international conferences and university-wide symposia, and a $1,000 research grant awarded to him by the International Institute of Education (IIE) as professional, academic and community activity funding assistance (c) active involvement in community service through his active role as research assistant in the federally-funded professional development for rural teachers in Levy County schools and as volunteer in the various activities of the research project with students, parents and teachers. In the nomination letter of his academic advisor, Dr. Maria Coady wrote, “By all accounts Mark is the exemplary international graduate student whose qualifications, research, and international accomplishments demonstrate his expertise and contributions to the field of education; he is knowledgeable, passionate, and committed to his scholarship and to the international academic community. He is dedicated to making schools more equitable places for children and adults in the U.S. and the Philippines, his home country. Meanwhile, in the nomination letter of Dr. Vicki Vescio, she wrote “ I believe Mark’s efforts in his doctoral studies over the past few years have been highly commendable and I know his final goal is to return home to the Philippines to promote social justice in teacher education”. Lopez was conferred the second award together with Varsha Sundaresan of the College of Medicine, and Hao Gan of the College of Agricultural Life and Sciences as first place.
When asked about how he felt towards his humble recognitions, he said “I had never imagined that I would realize such achievements. When I came to UF, my only goal was to obtain my doctoral degree which is an enormous challenge by and of itself, and return to the Philippines and continue serving the country. At some points, I realized that I wanted to do more than just focus on my academics, so I emerged out of my shell and explored the vast opportunities waiting to be embraced and conquered.”
Lopez is currently working towards completing his PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, major in ESOL/Bilingual Education in December 2019. He is obtaining support from a Fulbright Graduate Scholarship through the Philippine-American Educational Foundation (PAEF), a UF assistantship and a partial funding grant from the Commission on Higher Education, Philippines. He finished Master of Arts in Gender and Cultural Studies at Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts through the International Ford Fellowship Grant.
Mark Preston S. Lopez, a Fulbright scholar from the Philippines, accompanied by Dr. Maria Coady, his academic advisor, receives his plaque of recognition for the Alec Courtelis Award from Dr. Leonardo A. Villalon, Dean of UF International Center during the 25th Annual International Student Achievement Award Ceremony at the Emerson Alumni Hall on November 14, 2018. Lopez was also conferred the Certificate of Outstanding Merit for an International Student.