Amazing Students Profiles

Vicente Handa

Vicente Handa

Vicente Handa, a second-year doctoral student in science education, is one of a select few Filipino Fulbright Scholars sent by the Philippine government to study in the United States. Before he came to America, he worked as an assistant professor of science and science education in the College of Education at West Visayas State University in Iloilo City, Philippines. He has won numerous awards and recognition for his teaching and research at UGA and has traveled all over the country learning about everything from American grocery stores instead of open-air food markets to the civil rights movement. He is currently working on a cross-cultural Fulbright Partnership Grant, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, that supports a three-way collaboration and exchange involving the UGA science education department, the Regional Science Teaching Center and College of Education at WVSU and the Regional Science Teaching Center of Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga, Philippines. After graduation, he plans to return to his family in the Philippines and continue working as a university professor.


Passi City, Iloilo, Philippines

High School:

Iloilo City National High School

Degree objective:

Ph.D. in Science Education

Other degrees:

M.A.Ed., Chemistry Education, University of the Philippines, 2000
M.A., Educational Management, Aklan State University, Philippines, 1995
B.S.Ed., General Science, West Visayas State University, Philippines, 1991

Expected graduation:

December 2007

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

In my barely two-year stay at UGA, I presented or co-presented at least 11 papers or posters in various student and professional conferences. I recently received a $500 NARST competitive scholarship to attend and present a paper at the 2006 conference of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching in San Franciso, Calif. In fall semester of 2005, the Southeastern Association for Science Teacher Education (SASTE) awarded me a plaque of recognition for my outstanding contribution and service to the organization. Additionally, back in the Philippines, I received the Center of Excellence Scholarship for Teacher Education to study for my master’s in chemistry education at the University of the Philippines. The Iloilo City Government also awarded me a four-year undergraduate scholarship. In recognition of my academic achievement, the University of the Philippines awarded me a certificate of excellence for being a university scholar for two semesters. I graduated cum laude for my undergraduate degree and received the Nimia S. Lopez Award for Most Outstanding Student Teacher. As a science teacher educator, I received five certificates of recognition for my involvement in the massive professional development programs of elementary and high school science teachers in the Philippines. In April of 2005, the West Visayas State University, my home institution, awarded me a plaque of recognition as one of the “university researchers.”

Current Employment:

I am currently working as a graduate assistant in the Department of Mathematics and Science Education, but last semester, I was involved in a student teaching supervision position. This job gave me the opportunity to work closely with science student teachers and mentor teachers. This experience enabled me to see science education from a cross-cultural perspective since I am an international student studying in America, and I learned a lot from that experience.

Also, technically speaking, I am still employed at my home university. I am an assistant professor of science and science education in the College of Education at West Visayas State University, Iloilo City, Philippines, and I am on a leave of absence to pursue my education.

Family Ties to UGA:

None. I am the first ever in my family to study at UGA. I hope my children someday can study at this great institution for their graduate degrees.

I chose to attend UGA because…

…the science education program at UGA has a very strong reputation in the science education community all over the country. Also, I had the opportunity to work as a member of the research team of the UGA-WVSU-WMSU Fulbright Partnership Grant with my major professor, Deborah Tippins, and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

…to go to the Ramsey Center and work out. I also love to ride my bike around the campus. I take photographs of anything that catches my attention including the buildings, plants, birds, squirrels, and stones. During Spring Break, I took approximately 500 digital images of flowers in bloom on campus. The colors are awesome at this time of the year. I also love the buildings on North Campus. I love to walk around there, take pictures, stop for a short while at the library to look at the surplus books on sale, and then go home to my apartment and relax.

When I have free time, I like…

…to travel. My presentations at various conferences in science education have given me the opportunity to see other cities in the United States. I have been to New York, Chicago, New Orleans (before Hurricane Katrina), Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, and San Francisco. I have realized that the United States is so multi-cultural; it is difficult to make a sweeping conclusion about anything. I am grateful to the Georgia Fulbright Association for my unforgettable visit to the Cherokee community in North Carolina and for my travel to the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. My experiences in these places were profound and enlightening.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

…ride the Greyhound Bus from Chicago to Athens although I was entitled to plane fare. I made that decision against the advice of my friends because I just wanted the experience. It was very interesting to see the different kinds of people who ride on a Greyhound Bus.

My favorite place to study is…

…at my cubicle at night. I can accomplish many things during the nighttime because I am not easily distracted by other people. For the most part, they are sleeping! Besides, working in my cubicle prevents me from being tempted to watch TV or fall asleep in my bed when the writing task gets difficult.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

I love to share not only my afternoons, but my life with my wife and children. I terribly miss my wife, Novel, my sons, Kent and Vince, and my daughter, Kris. They are still in the Philippines, and they are my inspiration to succeed.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

…guide my children to become men and women whose hearts and minds are tempered with love and wisdom, respectively. I want them to grow as persons who are responsible for themselves and mindful of others’ needs.

After graduation, I plan to…

…go back to the Philippines, teach at the West Visayas State University, and put into practice all that I have learned in my academic life. I have been in school for so many years. I want to put into action all the visions that I wish to do in my family and professional life. I want to do Action Research so I can simultaneously produce knowledge and impact community life.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

…the friendship of my colleagues and professors in my department. I am very lucky to be placed in a supportive and collegial environment at the Department of Mathematics and Science Education.