Scientists—a highly acclaimed title reserved for those who dedicate their lives to their respective disciplines. However, not well known, the honorable notion itself was first dedicated to a woman, Mary Somerville: a mathematician, a physicist, and an astrologer. No word at that time could define her brilliance other than the word ‘scientist’.


Visayas State University is a home to women scientists procuring global excellence. VSU was once an ‘all-boys club’ in the past but this did not hinder producing powerful women to excel in their respective disciplines. Of sharp minds and wit, their devotion propelled the university into what it is now - as a globally acclaimed institution of science and innovation. 


The university nests the budding discipline of biotechnology - an interdisciplinary program harboring life and technologies utilized in agriculture, medicine, industry, and all for the betterment of human lives. Among the scientists who are studying in these areas of study are Marielle Bandalan and Heart Yokingco. Their stories and experiences, though on different timeframes, share similar lessons of leadership; and highlights their perseverance as biotechnologists, and as women in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) at VSU.  


Herewith, the AMARANTH tells the tales on its second segment of #TatakViscan stories alongside the celebration of International Day of Women & Girls in Science in the month of February. Through various challenges in life and on the field, they persevered and showed their brilliance as a globally competitive Viscan.


Heart Yokingco: Striving Life with ‘Hearty’ Devotion


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Growing up, Heart Yokingco, a second-year BS Biotechnology student, has had high regard and piqued interest in technologies and inventions that have the potential to benefit people.  Her tale starts with her choosing her degree in Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology with her curiosity about the word ‘biotechnology’ - a word not well-known. She dedicated her time in researching and exploring until she discovered that the discipline is what she has been searching for.  


Initially, she was suggested to pursue a career as a nurse or a doctor, but she opted to help and provide a behind-the-scenes approach instead. “I want to be the mind behind the antibiotics that doctors prescribe, or the mind behind the bioplastics that contribute to a sustainable Earth. In short, I aspire to be the driving force behind life-saving products and technologies”, she shared aspiringly.


She’s a hardworking youth leader and an ambitious learner who aims to be an environmental scientist someday. It is her passion to address environmental issues, particularly climate change, and to be able to contribute in finding sustainable solutions to environmental problems and raise environmental awareness. In addition, she also aspires to be a motivational speaker, using her voice as a tool to spread environmental advocacy, and to inspire and empower individuals to make a positive impact on the world.

Heart is also a DOST scholar and a leader - sitting as the Secretary of both VISCAN ERUDITOS (DOST Scholars Guild in VSU) and #ProjectSaveMe.


Marielle Bandalan: Strong Advocate of Women in STEM

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Marielle is a home-grown scientist, having been at VSU for 14 years from her primary to secondary education. Originally, she didn’t plan to be a Biotechnologist and is leaning towards a ‘corporate environment’. However as time went on and with family influences pursuing a career in STEM, these made her re-sparked and reaffirmed her love for Science and pursue the aforementioned program. Since then, she has been an advocate for empowering women and girls in STEM, showing them more opportunities, and inspiring young girls to create changes and set the stage for women’s representation in different disciplines.


Her philosophy in life is to “give your best and embrace the rest”, no matter what will and would happen, embrace what may come next. Even without a strong suit on the extraneous 

challenges in college, she emerged victorious, finishing the degree as a Magna Cum Laude in her batch.


Marielle graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology majoring in Industrial Biotechnology in Class 2023. She handled the VSU Biotechnological Society as a PIO and Vice President during her time. Her immense wit also landed her a scholarship under the  DA-Biotech Program.


Currently, she is pursuing graduate studies as an International Innovative Agricultural Science Master's student at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in Fuchu City, Japan.


Scientists’ Lessons of PERSEVERANCE


Heart defined perseverance as a means of never giving up, no matter what. The challenges in life are inevitable, and these tough times will make us want to quit. But to persevere is to be a fighter and to believe that tomorrow is another day.


It is common among students to have self-doubt, as sometimes we can’t expect that everything goes along our way.

Throughout 8 years of studying at VSU (including in VSU LHS), Heart has doubted her capabilities, oftentimes questioning if she truly deserves to be a part of this prestigious university or to be called a Viscan. During her current two years of experience as a Biotech student, receiving a low score on a test or struggling to grasp certain concepts lowers her morale. However, she also reminds herself that nothing worthwhile is easy and it is part of the journey - all in the process. 


There are days when, despite giving our utmost effort towards a certain goal, we may still fall short. Yet, it's crucial to reassure ourselves that it's alright to have unproductive days, to experience failures. The important thing is to keep going and believe that tomorrow could be our best day”, she added.


Marielle, on the other hand, also shares a similar sentiment on her experience as a Viscan. Being uncertain of her path in either a corporate or a STEM discipline. In her two years of SHS experience, she didn’t see herself and couldn't find fulfillment on her chosen track, but having a strong STEM influence in her family eventually helped her in her decision-making. 


Adding another step as a college student at VSU, pursuing a similar science field as a Biotechnology student, she would find herself catching her breath just to keep up with the pace of her instructor’s lectures unbeknownst to her as they expected it to be tackled during senior high school. These challenges often led to "magpadayon pa ba ta aning ato kurso?” kind of thought, but after a while, she persevered and remained in the program.


As she reiterates, “What I had back then was a plan. I really, really, really wanted to graduate with flying colors and in order to do so, I aimed for Summa cum Laude kay if I fall a little short, I would still end up as Magna cum laude. And if I fall short again, at least cum laude. So I just really did what must be done, did my best, and embrace[d] what comes next”. 

Adding doses of MOTIVATION


Every one of us has our way of motivating (or coping even) during tough times. 


Heart stays motivated by spending time with her family and friends. Being with them is something she cherishes especially when her life is on a rocky road. Their support keeps her to push forward in life. 


Additionally, she stresses the importance of spiritual beliefs by always having God by her side to overcome challenges. She shares the Bible verse and the promise of the verse that she holds onto as the anchor throughout her college journey.


"The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still." - Exodus 14:14


Marielle on the other hand is an introvert and is always thought to be happier doing things by herself, independently. This changed during her time in VSU where it nurtured unexpected friendships that resembled a family. Being with like-minded people and sharing thoughts, interests, and random get-togethers has been a source of motivation for her which helps in navigating through difficult times. 




VSU prides itself on its Mission, Vision, and Core Values on science, innovation, and environmental conservation and every student should already know these values by heart.  

Heart upholds these values as a youth leader and applies the university’s core values: Relevance, Integrity, Truth, and Excellence as a means of serving fellow students. The VISCAN ERUDITOS helps in pioneering youth leaders to embody the ideals of True Filipino Patriot Scholar and promote the spirit of volunteerism, all for the sake of the community. 


Her leadership as a secretary in #ProjectSaveMe (Sustainable Actions Vital for Empowering Mankind and the Environment) is also aligned with VSU’s environmentalism as the organization focuses on sustainable development and environmental conservatism 


These VSU philosophies have also helped Marielle in achieving her academic goals, and be equipped to seize opportunities that came her way. Now, in the new chapter of her career, she always applies these values in everything she does and will do - may it be in academics, research, or even in daily life.


VSU envisions its 100th Year 


The two biotechnologists see VSU as a university that surpasses its Vision and Mission. 

A university that is even more welcoming and warm and produces more graduates who would excel and be the leaders of their respective fields. They anticipate VSU to have a bigger influence on extending industries, technological advancement, and on economic development. 


As VSU reaches its 100th year, its institution will be the epitome of sustainable community and initiatives extending well beyond its campus. A university where Viscans will be vocal and proud of its alma mater and are empowered by their educational experiences as they share their own stories - creating more students and alumni/ae just like Heart and Marielle were. 

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