Ateneo Physics alumna Laurice Jamero: Y! Rocks breakthrough performer, international development consultant, and Sustainability Science student

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Ateneo Physics alumna Ma. Laurice “Darling” Jamero was featured in Yahoo! News last January 2012:

Ma. Laurice (a.k.a. Darling) Jamero was rated top pick to click among the 12 Y! Rocks breakthrough acts for 2011. The lone solo performer in the bunch, she credits the Y! Rocks December event as her first public performance—and before a crowd of thousands at that….Before that, the 22-year-old Physics major from the Ateneo de Manila University restricted her performances before an audience of family members with covers of songs like Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”, U2’s “With or Without You” and Adele’s “Turning Tables,” which she posted on YouTube…As noteworthy, the song she submitted for a chance to perform at the Y! Rocks concert was a quiet folkie tune called “Traysikel,” which she penned with Erika Aranas and Brylle Mark Carriaga. Unsure how her acoustic number would be received before a crowd eager for ear-shattering decibels, Laurice was happily surprised when the crowd caught on to the groove and swayed to her music. She had fun and said it felt like an affirmation that she has taken her musical inclination on the right track.

Darling Jamero earned her BS Physics degree last 2010. Singing has always been her hobby since her college days. After graduation, Darling worked in the Banking and Finance industry for two years. She then moved on to a more development-oriented career as an International Development consultant. Combining her educational and work backgrounds, she will enter The University of Tokyo’s Graduate Program in Sustainability Science in October 2013. Below is an interview with Darling Jamero by the Ateneo Physics News.

Question 1. After getting your BS Physics degree last 2010 in Ateneo, what happened next?

I worked as a business area controller at Deutsche Knowledge Services for one year, and as a market risk officer at Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) for another. I found both positions mathematically challenging. Especially at RCBC, I had the chance to use and develop models for pricing various financial products, and for quantifying market risk. While I did not have a formal training in finance, I was readily welcomed by the Banking and Finance industry because the number-crunching skills I acquired as a physics major proved highly valuable. In fact, my boss at RCBC is deeply convinced that the bank is one of the best places for physics majors like myself to apply what I have learned practically.

However, after two years of working as a banker, I felt that I had a different calling still. With this, I tried to explore a career in development at Development Finance International, Inc. Up until June this year, I worked as a consultant for private sector companies who want to participate in the development work of various funding organizations such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Mainly working with an IT client, my background in physics also proved helpful in better understanding my client and the technology they offer. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to really know what you are talking about especially when you are interacting with such intelligent and senior-level folks from global leading private companies, international funding organizations and even government ministries.

So why these careers? Actually, I always get that question during job interviews. But I’m still not sure how to answer.

What I do know is that I have many interests and that, accordingly, I participate in many activities. Back in college, I joined various organizations to pursue my other interests apart from physics. While it was indeed challenging especially from a time management point of view, it also proved rewarding in the end. However, what works in the school does not always work in the real world. I can only handle one day job at a time, inserting some NGO volunteer work and gigs whenever I can. So what I did instead was to explore my interest in finance, development and music separately at first, while also looking for an opportunity to integrate all of them in a single career. Luckily for me, I found employers who are highly supportive not only of my professional, but also of my personal development objectives. Most importantly, after three years, I finally came across the emerging field of Sustainability Science.

Question 2. So there is physics in banking and development?

Yes, there is. The Banking and Finance, and Development fields have known it long before. And I think it is high time that we, physicists, come to know it, too. There is a gap between finding solutions and actually implementing them that scientists are in the best position to fill. In my three years of “being out there,” I realized how scientists too can have a very special role to play outside the laboratory. This is precisely the point of the field I am pursuing next.

Sustainability Science calls for scientists and professionals from other fields such as social science and business management to come together and collaborate on creating integrated solutions to our society’s complex problems. The conflict of the story is that our problems have become so complicated that scientific solutions alone will not suffice. For example, climate change is not merely a science problem anymore, but also one of a social and economic nature. This then necessitates scientists to work together with social scientists and economists in creating a more comprehensive solution. While specialization is highly important in science, the ability to participate in collaborative work can prove equally important in light of the challenges our society faces today.

Given the transboundary nature of the field of Sustainability Science, I believe it will give me the opportunity to pursue my various interests in a more coordinated and meaningful manner. Particularly, I wish to do research on the topic of disaster risk management, such as flooding in Metro Manila, at the University of Tokyo. With this topic, I will be able to work on quantifying risks (financial and otherwise) and mitigating them, and to collaborate with government leaders, development planners, funding organizations in promoting disaster-resilient development. Isn’t it easy to see how my interests can easily relate to this field?

Question 3. How long have you been into disaster risk management?

A year. I am a member of the Preparedness Committee of the Exempli Gratia Foundation (EGF) and as part of my volunteer work, I lead projects that help promote disaster preparedness. For example, I bridged EGF and the Ateneo Physics Department, and coordinated their efforts in launching, and now patenting, a solar-powered disaster preparedness bag. It is a simple, but powerful technology that supports lighting and communicating devices especially needed during rescue operations. The National Red Cross will be the beneficiary of this technology.

Pre-EGF though, I have always been interested in disaster risk management, especially flooding. While attending school here in Manila, I have volunteered in a good number of relief operations. As a singer, I have also performed in a good number of benefit gigs. But why stop there?

Question 4. What was your greatest failure?

Interesting. The University of Tokyo asked me the same question as part of my application. Sharing with you my reply:

Even as a child, I have always been persevering and self-disciplined. Thus, having earned my parents’ respect, I was given full discretion on which program to pursue come university application time. However, looking back, I realized that, while this has been a tremendous opportunity, this was also a responsibility I was not well prepared for: I did not know all my options then nor did I sufficiently try to. I was too proud to admit my inexperience and, hence, I made a poorly informed decision. Nonetheless, I was truly fortunate to have been accepted as a full scholar to one of the most prestigious universities in the country.

Physics, the program I chose, proved to be a humbling experience. For once in my life, I felt that I had to try too hard just to keep my head above the water. This then led me to confront rather intimidating questions about my capabilities. To turn this around, I patiently translated my frustration into an invitation to become better. I resolved to ask even more questions and to remedy my inexperience with curiosity. In so doing,I achieved a deeper appreciation of myself.

I realized that I am a well-rounded person and that my interests are diverse, covering fields such as science, development, business, finance and music. Furthermore, I realized that I am none the worse for initially pursuing these fields separately. For, in fact, doing this will enable me to gain a fuller understanding of each and be in a better position to drive integration. Thus, I decided to remain in my program while also pursuing my other interests through joining various organizations.

By God’s grace, I graduated from Physics with flying colors and my research work was cited as the best in our department. I also enjoyed a fun-filled university life with friends who shared the same interests as mine. Most importantly, I am now starting to integrate my aptitude for research, data analysis and modelling resulting from my rigorous undergraduate training in physics, my work experience in financial risk management and my passion for development into my advocacy for disaster risk management. By pursuing an interdisciplinary graduate program, I hope to carry out this integration more meaningfully.

Through this experience, I learned that the power of choice ultimately stems from the power of knowledge; without truly knowing, choosing is but superficial.  Furthermore, I learned that the best attitude towards striving for knowledge centers upon humility and curiosity. By accepting that I do not have all the answers, I overcome the fear of asking and being asked questions. In the future, when I shall make more complex decisions that concern not only myself but the larger society as well, I strongly believe that these lessons will help me rise to the responsibility with due confidence and competence.

Question 5. Will you still continue singing?

Yes, I owe my music to myself. Actually, I kid my friends that the reason why I’m going to Japan is because I’ll be singing in Tokyo Disneyland. Hahaha.

Question 6. Have you heard that Ateneo de Manila University is launching the Institute for Sustainability?

Yes, and I am very happy to hear about it! I hope to make research contributions to the Institute some day. Or perhaps to link Todai’s and Ateneo’s efforts in driving sustainable development. If I can, then I think that would really be great.

Question 7. Do you know that MO is into disaster risk management research?

No, I   know that and I am not quite sure how to receive that news. On the one hand, it is really nice to know that there are more active players in disaster risk management than I originally thought. But on the other, that I only learned of this now speaks volumes about how poorly coordinated advocates of disaster risk management still are. This is worrying because poor coordination often leads to duplication of efforts or, worse, conflict in results. Based on what I know, this is actually happening now.

While attending the ICT for Development Forum at ADB earlier this year, I came by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology’s booth for Project NOAH or Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazard. From their demo, I learned how they have already gone quite a long way in developing a geo-hazard map for the Philippines. Surely, I related this good news to an official from AusAID whom I also happened to meet that day. However, instead of sharing my enthusiasm, she was frustrated by the news because AusAID too has completed a geo-hazard mapping project for Metro Manila. This does not only imply duplication of efforts, but also inefficient use of funds amounting to as much as P260M which could have been allotted to other development activities instead.

Looking on the bright side, I am happy that disaster risk management is gaining more attention today. For the Philippines, the third most disaster-prone country in the world, this progress is indeed very much welcome. Especially because the poor also happen to be the most vulnerable, I hope to contribute to poverty alleviation in the country by researching on disaster risk management.

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About ateneophysicsnews
Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

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