“EXCELLENCE is not just giving nor doing what is expected of you. Excellence is a choice.”
For SunStar reporter Wenilyn Sabalo, success is about hard work and always keeping one’s nose to the grindstone.
After a rigorous screening process, Sabalo, a magna cum laude graduate in Journalism at the University of San Jose-Recoletos, took home this year’s GMA Network Excellence Award (Gnea) in the field of Communications.
GNEA is a nationwide search for Filipino graduating students who demonstrated “exemplary leadership, stellar academic performance and proactive social responsibility,” according to GMA Network’s website.
Ryan Delos Reyes Francisco from the University of the East-Caloocan won the Gnea for Technology.
Sabalo was first honor in her class from Grade 1 to 4th year high school, collecting several awards and scholarships along the way. She was also a consistent dean’s lister in college.
Sabalo was the president of the Josenian Journalism Axis and was the editor-in-chief of The Purveyor Publication, the official trimedia publication of the Department of Journalism and Communications of USJ-R.
She turned down the scholarship offered by the Department of Science and Technology, choosing journalism over a science course to fulfill a lifelong dream.
When Sabalo received the excellence award, she couldn’t help but remember the struggles she had to overcome. She considers the award a culmination of all her efforts while in school.
“I’m very thankful and happy. I prayed, ‘Lord, if this is for me, I will be very grateful and take the award with open arms, in your name. If not, it’s okay. I already won with the experience,” Sabalo said.
This is the third consecutive year that a USJ-R graduate won the Gnea. Lorraine Ambrad won in 2017 and Mark Romas in 2018.
SunStar reporter Jerra Librea, one of Sabalo’s close friends in college, said Sabalo was very good at juggling her time.
“With her brand of discipline, I won’t be surprised where winning this award will take her,” Librea said.
Nestor Baylon Ramirez, USJ-R Department of Journalism and Communications chairman, said the school’s three-peat win is an indicator that the strategies they’ve employed in the institution works.
“The entire department was praying for the success of Wen. This shows that provincial communication and journalism schools [in Cebu] are comparable to their counterparts in Manila and other parts of Luzon. This success is a motivation for us to elevate some more in the way we train our students,” Ramirez said.
Sabalo said she is grateful to her family, friends, school administrators and God.
“This award is an inspiration. It drives me to do more and be more for others. It’s an avenue to inspire more youth to be the best version of themselves,” Sabalo said.