As a licensed chemist, doctorate degree holder, experienced professor, and award-winning scientist, Dr. Amelia B. Hizon-Fradejas definitely has her fair share of achievements. But what she is most proud of is being a mother on top of it all.
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- Dr. Amelia B. Hizon-Fradejas is an Assistant Professor 7 at the Institute of Chemistry, UPLB, a holder of a PhD from Hiroshima University, and a dedicated mother and wife to her family.
- Her advice to other women like her is to determine your priorities in life—whether it be career or family—and from there, set goals early on.
- Dr. Amy faced the challenges of gender discrimination during her time in Japan, where she had to both work and take care of her child, but strived to bring the mindset of gender equality to others during her stay there.
- As she is currently working in the Philippines, she enjoys the credibility being a chemist gives her, and is dedicated to helping her students as well.
- Despite the struggles and times she was overwhelmed with her work, Dr. Amy continues to work towards her goal of leaving a positive influence on her community.
Being both a career and family woman, Dr. Amy’s usual schedule consists of both work and house chores. Her advice for other women like her is to set a goal and priority in life.
“You have to set [your goals] early on: how do you imagine yourself in 10 years, next 5 years from now? So you can align what to do next.”
For Dr. Amy, family is her priority. In fact, she once took a year break to refresh herself and focus on her duties as a wife and mother. Outside of work, she also reads novels about wolves on the internet and watches K-Drama. The current pandemic has also made her busy, as she also manages an online beauty product store where she engages in online marketing and selling.
“Even if you are a woman, you have to push through [with] your dream.”
Nevertheless, Dr. Amy still continues to pursue her scientific work. After all, there are a lot of perks to being a chemist.
“Kapag binigyan mo ako ng shampoo, alam ko na kung okay ito or hindi. Kapag may commercial sa TV, alam ko na kung fake or legit. Kapag sa Department Store, alam ko kung minamarketan lang ako or hindi,” she said lightheartedly. “Pero napagkakamalan na alam mo na lahat timplahin.” [“When you give me shampoo, I know if it’s okay or not. When there’s a commercial on TV, I know if it’s fake or legit. When I’m in the Department Store, I know if I’m just being marketed to or not. But everyone thinks you know how to make everything.”]
Currently, Dr. Amy is an Assistant Professor 7 at the Institute of Chemistry, University of the Philippines, Los Baños (UPLB), where she also obtained her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Master of Science in Agricultural Chemistry Minor in Soil Science. She earned her degree in Doctor of Engineering in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Hiroshima University in Japan, where she worked as a research assistant. She also took on the role of Senior Assistant Professor in Kyushu University before returning to UPLB for her current job.
Having worked in Japan until 2015, Dr. Amy has had her fair share of struggles with being undermined for her gender. According to her, not even 10% of the researchers in the lab are women, and when they are, they “should be in the back.” But Dr. Amy chose to bring the mindset of women and men being equal from the Philippines to Japan. While most women in Japan stayed at home to tend to their children, Dr. Amy continued to report to work, taking her child with her.
“I didn’t mind people asking why I brought my child together with me. Even if you are a woman, you have to push through [with] your dream. Women are even good multi-taskers.”
Indeed, Dr. Amy had moments on the job where her students could really feel the presence of her child (or, in the case of one scenario where her students thought she was about to give birth, the child in her stomach!)
Despite the challenge of working as a woman in Japan, Dr. Amy is thankful for the support from her senseis (professors and mentors) in her research group. Upon returning to the Philippines, she brought home her mentee experience and became a mentor herself.
As a chemist in the Philippines, Dr. Amy enjoyed the credibility her career and experiences gave her. Furthermore, the discrimination she experienced in Japan was thankfully not present in her home country.
“People listen to you when you talk, especially students. They consider you an expert. You have credibility and you know how to help and answer people.”
Every semester, Dr. Amy’s goal is to finish her classes with whatever message she wants to relay to her students and help them move on to the next steps in their education and career. Being in the middle of her own career track herself, Dr. Amy has had moments when she was overwhelmed with studying and taking care of unhelpful professors. She would sometimes think: “Am I really for this? Do I really want to continue my career as somebody in the academe?”
Thankfully, different support groups—her friends in the same career, her church, and her husband—helped her get through these rough patches. Today, Dr. Amy continues to set goals in her career and find ways to help influence her students and other people in the community.
WRITTEN BY nATALIA aRAÑA
Edited by Hannah Manuel
Graphics by Judd BaÑas
Natalia is a student at Philippine Science High School – Main Campus, where she learned to foster her love for both science and humanities. As a STEM student and writer, her passion lies in integrating scientific work and writing to be able to communicate meaningful ideas and make science information accessible to anyone.