The Heart Behind CompSAt: Ma’am Jess

“Behind every great organization is a great leader.” When we think of something that exists today, we tend to forget that some time in the past, someone told themselves, “I will make this a reality.” This is true for CompSAt. Its founding members put their heads together to make the organization a reality, and to this day, there is a leader that keeps CompSAt and its vision alive: the sweet, the thoughtful, and the perfect embodiment of cura personalis, Ms. Jessica Sugay.

Ma'am Jess 2

I was given the opportunity to interview her about herself and about the organization. In order to familiarize our readers with Ma’am Jess, I asked her to tell us a bit about herself.

She graduated from the Ateneo in 2004 with a degree in Computer Science. She started teaching two years later, in 2006. It was in this same year, 10 whole years ago, that she became the moderator of CompSAt. Talk about dedication to the organization, right?

I asked her why she chose Computer Science as her major, and her answer seemed straight out of a novel. She had always been interested in computers. She learned to type at the age of 7, which was a big deal because even the Windows OS had not been established back then.

Years later, as she was completing her college applications, she took a leap of faith. Like every other person, she was unsure of what course to take. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a preschool teacher or to work with computers because she loved them both.

She ended up submitting only two college applications: one to UP Diliman and the other to Ateneo. After taking both entrance exams, she decided to leave everything in God’s hands (leap of faith, right?); she would study wherever she was accepted. Though her score was close, she didn’t pass the UPCAT. Her father’s family had all gone to UP and thus had a lot of connections. They offered to help her get a reconsideration, but she declined and stood by her promise. So she went into CS with no background in programming, terrified of the Math that came with it.

But she survived.

I then asked if she was disappointed when she didn’t pass the UPCAT, and she said she wasn’t. She believed she landed where she was meant to be. I asked if her love for teaching was another reason she became an instructor, to which she surprised me saying that it wasn’t exactly the case. She had always wanted to teach, hence her confusion during college applications. She always thought she would stay in the world of corporate IT; after graduation, she worked in IT consulting. In her case, however, things always seemed to find a way of falling into place, and that was how she ended up becoming an instructor.

Aside from learning about her background, I was curious also as to why she chose to be the moderator of CompSAt. She was a CompSAt member back when she was in college. I assumed this was the reason behind her decision, but there was more to the story than that. While she was a student, CompSAt was not in good shape. It wasn’t something she was very interested in. She was more interested in the  Ateneo College Ministry Group (ACMG). In her sophomore year, she became the representative of ACMG in the Council of Organizations of the Ateneo (COA).

During these two years, CompSAt was essentially dissolved. However, in her third year, her batch was tasked by the CS department to resurrect the organization. She gave up ACMG and focused on CompSAt. This decision came as a surprise to the other members of ACMG as they’d all thought she would become the next president. In the two years of resurrection that followed, she served in secretariat positions. By her last year in Ateneo, became the Secretary General.

Interestingly, during her last year of college, she was also a Student Facilitator for InTACT. Upon her return to Ateneo two years later, her freshies in InTACT were not only seniors, but also officers of CompSAt. She had stayed in touch with CompSAt members even after her graduation, so becoming the organization’s moderator was a natural course of action.

I then asked her if becoming moderator was something she was thankful for. She replied with a wholehearted “Yes, of course!” She said that it allows her to connect with students in a different way. It has its challenges, but her experience made facing those challenges worth it every time.

I found it amazing how she went from being a simple freshman in the crowd to becoming the moderator that helped revive an organization. She also ended up fulfilling two of her dreams in the process! She continues working hard for the organization today, working simultaneously to earn the title of Professor.

Thinking about how the organization currently is and what the future could bring, I asked Ma’am Jess what she thinks CompSAt will be like in the near future. She said that she hopes it continues to strive to be the best it can be, that it sustains being a family, a support system for students. She hopes it becomes a place of awareness, caring, and involvement. She hopes it makes its mark by becoming an agent of change for the better, and, as the CompSAt mission-vision says, “improve the quality of lives.” It was very reassuring to hear that the organization was in capable hands. The organization has a bright future ahead.

“Remain true to who we are. Be more. Become more. Think outside the box. Surprise me.”

– Ma’am Jess

These were the words given by Ma’am Jess for the members, old and new, of CompSAt. The way I see it, she thinks of CompSAt the same way she saw herself in the past. She remained true to who she was, being the computer whiz she was as a child. She was being more than who she thought she was, leaving her future to God and pursuing Computer Science. By returning to Ateneo as an instructor, she became more.

Think outside the box, like how she found ways to revive CompSAt. If it weren’t for her and her batchmates’ efforts, CompSAt might not even be here anymore. Surprise her with what you can do, like how she surprised herself by being able to pursue both of her childhood dreams.

CompSAt has been through a lot of trials and tribulations. Through the efforts of its members and the constant guidance of Ma’am Jess, CompSAt has overcome each and every one of these. Ma’am Jess has supported CompSAt members in various ways, be it for personal or academic problems. She is the heart of CompSAt precisely because she cares for its members beyond the call of duty.


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