BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — Vinz EJ Nanas has been a student leader for as long as he can remember.
When he was in Grade 6, for instance, he remembers “enjoying” being involved in students’ activities that showcase his leadership. This continued until Junior High, when he became a batch representative for three consecutive years.
This was placed on hold during Senior High, because Vinz then had to focus more on his academics.
Things started to go back to the way it had been then, when he stepped into college.
FROM THE CLASSROOM TO THE SENATE
Vinz is currently taking up a bachelor’s degree in Inter-Disciplinary Studies in the University of St. La Salle and like any other college student worth their salt, he was determined to focus more on his grades. He is, after all, been consistently reaping academic honors, and any other activity outside of his studies might derail his goal.
But you cannot really take the man away from passion. Pretty soon, he became batch representative of the IDS Organization, the academic society for students taking up the IDS program.
The opportunity to serve outside of his academic org came when he was elected Student Senator, an in La Salle Bacolod, where the student government is largely patterned after the mainstream, that means a whole lotta legislative work.
Vinz managed to flex his legislative muscle as student law-maker, and even wider opportunity for service came when the chairmanship for the Committee on Issues and Advocacies was practically dropped on his lap.
This means, for a socially-oriented young person like Vinz, an opportunity to weave in his advocacies.
He has since moved out of the Senate and into the Executive as Vice-President of the USLS Student Government but that merely made him focus more on student and club empowerment.
“I would like to focus more on student and club empowerment… [this way] I would still able to manage my time in academics by being on the Dean’s List, as well as performing my duties in the student government,” he tells DNX.
FROM CAMPUS TO THE WORLD
Vinz remembers that day when he applied World Youth International Model United Nations. It was at that time when United National Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the youth to declare war against COVID-19, calling on governments to work together “ensure targeted support for the people and communities most affected by the disease.”
“I applied, and received an email notification telling me that I had been accepted,” Vinz shares. He and other young leaders then joined an international online and Model United Nation simulation to optimize time spent in self-quarantine by exchanging knowledge about the pandemic.
There were, the WYMUN website says, “UN-style discussions, councils, and committee panels” with topics focusing on the coronavirus and its effect on regions, and the global economy.
As delegate, he was expected to represent a country – in this case, Qatar – so he did “a lot of research” on the country assigned to him. He remembers being “nervous” during the two-day international conference because of the sheer number of international delegates who attended, all of who are “highly skilled” in MUN.
Still, it did not dampen his enthusiasm one bit.
“I was so happy because I could keep myself productive despite the ongoing community quarantine. And because of my active involvement in the organization, they gave me the opportunity to join their first international online conference, free of cost,” he says.
But the cherry on top came during the awarding ceremonies because Vinz bagged the Outstanding Delegate Award.
“I was so shocked,” he says, recalling how he really jumped for joy when he received the international recognition, adding, “I believe that the selection of winners was based on the delegates’ performance evaluated by the committee chairpersons.”
THE FUTURE IS NOW
With Vinz now armed with the WYMUN experience, Vinz hopes to bring with him important lessons and takeaways he has and apply these as student leader especially with his numerous advocacies.
MUN, Vinz says, has taught young leaders of the world “to develop diplomacy, public speaking, confidence, leadership and being able to engage in discussions pertaining to international cooperation”.
All these are of course necessary as the young leader prepares to roll his sleeves up for the coming school year.
Among his numerous engagements is as environmentalist, as he is currently working as secretary of the Young Hinigaranon Environmentalist Society, a youth-led environmental organization that aims to advocate for environmental awareness within the LGU.
He had also been chosen as a national delegate of Youth Environment Camp in the City which was organized by Youth Proyekto Philippines last 24 March, 2019 in La Paz, Iloilo City, as well as the pioneering batch of the Cooperation of Young Environmental Leaders (CoYEL).
He also champions student rights and welfare, having passed salient bills on student welfare and responsibilities during his stint as USG Senator.
Indeed, there is no telling where the future will lead Vinz. While most of the people his age are wondering when the quarantine and liquor ban be lifted, he is busy taking time to think of ways to serve others.
For Vinz, international recognition is just a bonus, a rare quality in a somebody so young in a world where medals are shown off and the journey and lessons along the way forgotten.
Vinz says what matters is how he has made an impact to society, and how these rich experiences have affected him as a person, as a leader.
As he says, on parting: “Whether you get an award or not, learnings and experiences should be valued the most. An award is just a bonus.”